David Cameron – 2013 Speech at Eid al-Adha Reception

davidcameron

Below is the text of the speech made by the Prime Minister, David Cameron, at an Eid al-Adha reception held at 10, Downing Street in London on 21st October 2013.

So, first of all, Eid Mubarak and a very warm welcome to Number 10, Downing Street, and I hope all of your celebrations over the last week have been successful. It is a warm welcome to Number 10, because it is a good moment to reflect on what Eid means to everyone in this room, but also what occasions like this really mean to us and the things that we should bring out.

And to me, there are really 3 things that matter at an event like tonight. Because the reason we celebrate Eid here in Downing Street – the reason we also celebrate Diwali, we celebrate Hanukkah, we celebrate Easter – we celebrate these great festivals because of course we want to say what a fantastic contribution Muslims make to our country. Of course we want to celebrate everything that the Muslim community here in Britain is and does.

But we’re also celebrating something else, which is the importance of faith in our country. And I’m always struck, when I think about Eid, about the similarities of our religions rather than the differences. As far as I understand it Eid is a commemoration of the event when Abraham was on the point of sacrificing one of his sons, but in the end sacrificed a sheep instead of one of his sons, because you have a compassionate God.

And what’s extraordinary about this story is it’s exactly the same story – give or take – as appears in Genesis about my Christian religion. And it’s the moment when we understand that the Abrahamic religions have so much in common, not just that we believe in a compassionate God, but also we believe that faith is not just something internal or something just between ourselves and our God: it is something that dictates how we should try and act in our lives.

And I think the brilliance and the simplicity of Eid, where you keep a third for the family, a third for relatives and for friends and a third for charity, is such a simple way of teaching people about the importance of generosity, the importance of giving, the importance of charity.

And that’s why I think faith is so important in our countries. Not because people without faith can’t be generous and good citizens; of course they can. But faith is a tremendous help, it’s a tremendous guide. It gives us ways to think about how we put back. So, I think the first thing we celebrate is faith, and the service that faith brings.

I had a fantastic reminder of that this year when I went to a mosque in Manchester and saw you preparing for the Big Iftar. I thought this was a brilliant idea, to invite in the community from all walks of life, all religions or no religions, to come and see what an Iftar is all about. It was a fantastic event, and I think the Big Iftar is an absolutely brilliant idea – to open up your faith, your religion, your community centre, your mosque to others, to let them show what a contribution Islam makes to Britain.

I think the second thing an event like this helps us to do is to make sure we’re doing everything we can as a country to be as welcoming as possible to people of different faiths and different religions. And obviously, we have still great challenges in Britain to make sure we are as open and welcoming and as friendly as we can be.

We still have a huge battle fighting prejudice in our country, and I think perhaps particularly Islamophobia – people telling lies about your religion – is one that we have to face up to particularly strongly in our country. And it’s a time to remember that. It’s also a time to remember that welcoming people to our country of all faiths is something that has to go across every single part of life.

So, if you think about our economy – that’s my number one concern at the moment. How do we get our economy growing? How do we generate jobs? How do we make sure that everyone is included in this recovering economy? In order to do that, obviously we need to improve education and training and welfare, but we also need to think about what can hold people of different religions back.

And one of the things I’m very keen that we do, with the World Islamic Economic Forum coming up in just a few days’ time, is I want Britain to be one of the world centres of Islamic finance. And that should go from the highest and most mightiest financial institution all the way to things like start-up loans that we have introduced and are fantastically successful – we’ve got tens of thousands of young people taking them on and starting up their own businesses.

And tonight I can announce that we will make sure that there is a type of start-up loan that is totally consistent with all the principles of Islamic finance. We must do that for start-up loans, we must do it for student loans, we must do it for enterprise allowances and for all of those things. That’s what a welcoming, tolerant, multi-racial country does.

I think the third thing we should think about on an occasion like this is, after we’ve celebrated the immense contribution of the Muslim community to Britain, after we’ve celebrated what faith brings to our country, after we’ve thought about what more we can do to make people welcome in our own country, is also think, as a country, what we do to help others overseas.

And in that context, I’m proud of the fact that, even in spite of difficult economic times, this country is one of the few countries in the world that has kept its promises on aid and development – meeting that 0.7% target of our gross national income.

Now, a lot of that money goes to some of the most challenged Islamic countries in our world – countries like Afghanistan, still desperately poor and in need of aid and assistance. Countries like Pakistan, where British taxpayers’ money is helping to educate hundreds of thousands of children. Countries like Somalia, broken by decades of civil war and conflict, carefully now being put back together with the assistance of conferences held here in London, British aid money and other interventions and assistance that we have been able to give.

It is something that we can reflect on, I think, proudly as a country, that every 2 seconds a child is vaccinated somewhere in the world because of aid money that British taxpayers have provided. I think that is something that can make us proud, and it is on a night like tonight, when we’re thinking of what we do to help Muslims all over the world, we can be secure in the knowledge that the British Government, on your behalf, fulfils all of those requirements.

One of the most moving meetings I’ve had this year was on the anniversary of Srebrenica, when the Remembering Srebrenica project brought some of the survivors here to Number 10. And they were able to look me in the eye and tell me their stories and how they’d suffered, and I don’t think I’ll ever forget hearing those stories. And it’s a reminder that, while we may think that our priority is the economy – and it is – while we’re very much focused on all the things we need to do in our own country, we have responsibilities around the world.

We have a role we can play around the world, and we should never turn away from genocide, from suffering on that scale. And I pay tribute to all of those who helped to remind us of these terrible slaughters and these terrible events, and make sure we do what we can to stop them happening again.

So, a very warm welcome to Number 10. Tonight is about celebrating the contribution that British Muslims make to our country. It is a huge contribution. It’s one I’m happy to celebrate here, but also to talk about these issues of integration, of how we help Muslims around the world, and also the importance during this time of religious festivals – the importance of our faith, not just for us and our relationship with our maker, but also what we contribute to our country and to our communities. And the Muslim faith is so strong in that, and I have huge respect for everything you do.

Thank you.

David Cameron – 2013 Conservative Party Conference Speech

davidcameron

Below is the text of the speech made by the Prime Minister and Leader of the Conservative Party, David Cameron, at the 2013 Conservative Party Conference in Manchester on 2nd October 2013.

This week in Manchester we’ve shown this Party is on the side of hardworking people.

Helping young people buy their own home.

Getting the long-term unemployed back to work.

Freezing fuel duty.

Backing marriage.

Cutting the deficit.

Creating jobs.

Creating wealth.

Make no mistake: it is this Party with the verve, energy and ideas to take our country forward…

…and I want to thank everyone here for the great week we’ve had.

When we came to office, we faced a clear and daunting task: to turn our country around.

In May 2010, the needle on the gauge was at crisis point.

People were talking about this country in a way they had not done for decades.

But three and a half years later, we are beginning to turn the corner.

The deficit is falling.

Our economy is growing.

The numbers of our fellow countrymen and women in work are rising.

We are not there yet, not by a long way.

But, my friends, we are on our way.

I want to thank the people who have done the most to get us this far.

You. The British people.

Never giving up. Working those extra hours. Coping with those necessary cuts.

You. British business. You kept people on in the hard times. Invested before you knew for certain that things were getting better.

Together – we are clearing up the mess that Labour left.

But I have a simple question, to the people in this hall and beyond it.

Is that enough?

Is it enough that we just clear up Labour’s mess and think ‘job done’?

Is it enough to just fix what went wrong?

I say – no. Not for me.

This isn’t job done; it is job begun.

I didn’t come into politics just to fix what went wrong, but to build something right.

We in this party – we don’t dream of deficits and decimal points and dry fiscal plans…

…our dreams are about helping people get on in life…

…aspiration, opportunity…

…these are our words, our dreams.

So today I want to talk about our one, abiding mission…

…I believe it is the great Conservative mission…

… that as our economy starts to recover…

…we build a land of opportunity in our country today.

Now, I know, it’ll be tough.

But I know we’ve got what it takes in this Party.

Some people say “can’t be done” – Conservatives say “what’s to stop us?”

They said we couldn’t get terrorists out of our own country.

Well – Theresa knew otherwise…

…and that’s why Abu Qatada had his very own May Day this year…

…didn’t it feel good seeing him get on that plane?

Some people said the NHS wasn’t safe in our hands.

Well – we knew otherwise.

Who protected spending on the NHS? Not Labour – us.

Who started the Cancer Drugs Fund? Not Labour – us.

And by the way – who presided over Mid Staffs…

…patients left for so long without water, they were drinking out of dirty vases…

…people’s grandparents lying filthy and unwashed for days.

Who allowed that to happen? Yes, it was Labour…

…and don’t you dare lecture anyone on the NHS again.

And some people say a lot of things on Europe.

You’ll never be able to veto an EU treaty.

You’ll never cut the Budget.

And if you did these things – you’d have no allies in Europe.

Well we’ve proved them wrong.

I vetoed that treaty…

…I got Britain out of the EU bail-out scheme…

…and yes – I cut that budget.

And in doing all this, we haven’t lost respect – we’ve won allies to get powers back from Europe.

That is what we will do…

…and at the end of it – yes – we will give the British people their say in a referendum.

That is our pledge. It will be your choice: in or out.

BRITAIN IN THE WORLD

And friends, you know what someone said about us recently?

Apparently some Russian official said: Britain is “just a small island that no-one pays any attention to.”

Really?

Let me just get this off my chest.

When the world wanted rights, who wrote Magna Carta?

When they wanted representation, who built the first Parliament?

When they looked for compassion, who led the abolition of slavery?

When they searched for equality, who gave women the vote?

When their freedom was in peril, who offered blood, toil, tears and sweat?

And today – whose music do they dance to?

Whose universities do they flock to?

Whose football league do they watch?

Whose example of tolerance of people living together from every nation, every religion, young and old, straight and gay?

…whose example do they aspire to?

I haven’t even got on to the fact that this small island beat Russia in the Olympics last year…

…or that the biggest-selling vodka brand in the world isn’t Russian, it’s British – Smirnoff – made in Fife…

…so yes, we may be a small island…

…but I tell you what, we’re a great country.

But I want to make a serious point about our place in the world.

Following that vote on Syria in the House of Commons, some people said it was time for Britain to re-think our role.

I’m sorry – but I don’t agree.

If we shrunk from the world we would be less safe and less prosperous.

The role we play, the organisations we belong to…

… and yes – the fact our defence budget remains the 4th largest in the world…

…all this is not about national vanity – it’s about our national interest.

When British citizens –our fathers, mothers, daughters– are in danger…

…whether that’s in the deserts of Algeria or the city of Nairobi…

…then combatting international terrorism – it matters to us.

When five of the world’s fastest growing economies are African…

…then trading with Africa – and yes helping Africa to develop with aid – that matters to us.

And at the heart of all this work – the finest Foreign Secretary I could ask for: William Hague.

Around the world, we really do matter as a United Kingdom…

…England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland.

The date of the referendum has been set. The decision is for Scotland to make.

All the arguments about our economy, jobs, currency – I believe they make an unanswerable case for the UK.

But today I want a more simple message to go out to all the people of Scotland.

From us here in this hall, from me, from this party, from this country, from England, Wales, Northern Ireland…

…and it’s this:

We want you to stay.

We want to stick together.

Think of all we’ve achieved together – the things we can do together.

The nations – as one.

Our Kingdom – United.

For 12 years now, men and women from all parts of these islands have been serving their country in Afghanistan.

Next year, the last of our combat troops will be coming home…

…having trained up the Afghans to look after their own country.

More than a decade of war.

Sacrifice beyond measure – from the finest and bravest armed forces in the world.

And I want us to stand, to raise the roof in here, to show just how proud of those men and women we are.

THATCHER

We in this room are a team.

And this year, we said goodbye to one of our team.

Margaret Thatcher made our country stand tall again, at home and abroad.

Rescuing our economy. Giving power to our people. Spreading home ownership. Creating work. Winning the Cold War. Saving the Falklands.

I asked her about her record once.

I was sitting next to her at a dinner – and I was really nervous.

As ever she was totally charming, she put me at ease…

…but after a while I said: “Margaret, if you had your time in Government again, is there anything you’d do differently?”

And she turned to me and said: “You know, I think I did pretty well the first time around.”

Well we can all agree with that – and we can all agree on this…

…she was the greatest peace-time Prime Minister our country has ever had.

LABOUR’S MESS

Margaret Thatcher had an almighty mess to clear up when she came to office…

…and so did we.

We will never forget what we found.

The biggest Budget deficit in our peace-time history.

The deepest recession since the Second World War.

But it wasn’t just the debt and deficit Labour left…

…it was who got hurt.

Millions coming here from overseas while millions of British people were left on welfare.

The richest paying lower tax rates than their cleaners.

Unsustainable, debt-fuelled banks booming – while manufacturing withered away.

The North falling further behind.

Towns where a quarter of people lived on benefits.

Schools where 8 out of 10 children didn’t get five decent GCSEs.

Yes, they were famously “intensely relaxed” about people getting filthy rich…

…but tragically, they were also “intensely relaxed” about people staying stuck on welfare year after year…

…“intensely relaxed” about children leaving school without proper qualifications so they couldn’t hope to get a job at the end of it.

That was it.

That was what they left.

The casino economy meets the welfare society meets the broken education system…

…a country for the few built by the so-called party of the many…

…and Labour: we will never let you forget it.

OUR MISSION

These past few years have been a real struggle.

But what people want to know now is: was the struggle worth it?

And here’s the honest answer.

The struggle will only be worth it if we as a country finish the job we’ve started.

Finishing the job means understanding this.

Our economy may be turning the corner – and of course that’s great.

But we still haven’t finished paying for Labour’s Debt Crisis.

If anyone thinks that’s over, done, dealt with – they’re living in a fantasy land.

This country’s debt crisis, created by Labour, is not over.

After three years of cuts, we still have one of the biggest deficits in the world.

We are still spending more than we earn.

We still need to earn more and yes, our Government still needs to spend less.

I see that Labour have stopped talking about the debt crisis and now they talk about the cost of living crisis.

As if one wasn’t directly related to the other.

If you want to know what happens if you don’t deal with a debt crisis…

…and how it affects the cost of living…

…just go and ask the Greeks.

So finishing the job means sticking to our course until we’ve paid off all of Labour’s deficit, not just some of it.

And yes – let’s run a surplus so that this time we fix the roof when the sun is shining…

…as George said in that brilliant speech on Monday.

To abandon deficit reduction now would throw away all the progress we’ve made.

It would put us back to square one.

Unbelievably, that’s exactly what Labour now want to do.

How did they get us into this mess?

Too much spending, too much borrowing, too much debt.

And what did they propose last week?

More spending, more borrowing, more debt.

They have learned nothing – literally nothing – from the crisis they created.

But finishing the job is about more than clearing up the mess we were left.

It means building something better in its place.

In place of the casino economy, one where people who work hard can actually get on

In place of the welfare society, one where no individual is written off.

In place of the broken education system, one that gives every child the chance to rise up and succeed.

Our economy, our society, welfare, schools…

…all reformed, all rebuilt – with one aim, one mission in mind:

To make this country, at long last and for the first time ever, a land of opportunity for all.

For all.

So it makes no difference whether you live in the North or in the South, whether you’re black or you’re white, a man or a woman, the school you went to, the background you have, who your parents were…

…what matters is the effort you put in, and if you put the effort in you’ll have the chance to make it.

That’s what the land of opportunity means.

That’s what finishing the job means.

Of course I know that others in politics may talk about these things.

But wishing for something, caring about something – that’s not enough.

You can’t conjure up a dynamic economy, a strong society, fantastic schools all with the stroke of a minister’s pen.

It takes a mixture of hard work, common sense and – above all – the right values.

When the left say: you can’t expect too much from the poorest kids; don’t ask too much from people on welfare; business is the problem, not the solution…

…Here in this party we say: that’s just wrong.

If you expect nothing of people that does nothing for them.

Yes, you must help people – but you help people by putting up ladders that they can climb through their own efforts.

You don’t help children succeed by dumbing down education…

…you help them by pushing them hard.

Good education is not about equality of outcomes but bringing the best out of every single child.

You don’t help people by leaving them stuck on welfare…

…but by helping them stand on their own two feet.

Why? Because the best way out of poverty is work – and the dignity that brings.

We know that profit, wealth creation, tax cuts, enterprise…

…these are not dirty, elitist words – they’re not the problem…

…they really are the solution because it’s not government that creates jobs, it’s businesses…

…it’s businesses that get wages in people’s pockets, food on their tables, hope for their families and success for our country.

There is no shortcut to a land of opportunity.  No quick fix.  No easy way to do it.

You build it business by business, school by school, person by person…

…patiently, practically, painstakingly.

And underpinning it all is that deep, instinctive belief that if you trust people and give them the tools, they will succeed.

This party at its heart is about big people, strong communities, responsible businesses, a bigger society – not a bigger state.

It’s how we’ve been clearing up the mess.

And it’s how we’re going to build something better in its place.

So let’s stick with it and finish the job we’ve started.

ECONOMY

A land of opportunity starts in our economy.

The chance to get a decent job. To start a business. To own a home.

And at the end of it all – more money in your pocket.

To get decent jobs for people, you’ve got to recognise some fundamental economic facts.

We are in a global race today. No one owes us a living.

Last week, our ambition to compete in the global race was airily dismissed as a race to the bottom…

…that it means competing with China on sweatshops and India on low wages.

No – those countries are becoming our customers…

…and we’ve got to compete with California on innovation; Germany on high-end manufacturing; Asia on finance and technology.

And here’s something else you need to recognise about this race.

The plain fact is this.

All those global companies that employ lots of people – they can set up anywhere in the world.

They could go to Silicon Valley. To Berlin.

And yes, here in Manchester.

And these companies base their decisions on some simple things: like the tax rates in each country.

So if those taxes are higher here than elsewhere, they don’t come here.

And if they don’t come here, we don’t get those jobs.

Do you get that, Labour?

British people don’t get those jobs.

Last week Labour proposed to put up corporation tax on our biggest and most successful employers.

That is just about the most damaging, nonsensical, twisted economic policy you could possibly come up with.

I get to visit some amazing factories in my job.

One of my favourites is Jaguar Land Rover…

…not just because they actually let me get in a car and drive it around on my own…

…but really because I get to meet people there who are incredibly proud of their work and their craftsmanship…

…the fact that what they’re making sells around the world – the best of British design and engineering.

So when Ed Miliband talks about the face of big business, I think about the faces of these hardworking people.

Labour is saying to their employers: “we want to put up your taxes… don’t come here – stick your jobs and take them elsewhere”.

I know that bashing business might play to a Labour audience.

But it’s crazy for our country.

So if Labour’s plan for jobs is to attack business – ours is to back business.

Regulation – down. Taxes – cut for businesses large and small. A new industrial policy that looks to the future – green jobs, aerospace jobs, life science jobs.

We’ve made a good start: 1.4 million new jobs created in our private sector since we came to office…

…and that is 1.4 million reasons to finish the job we’ve started.

In a land of opportunity, it’s easier to start your own business.

To all those people who strike out on their own, who sit there night after night…

…checking and double checking whether the numbers stack up…

…I say I have so much respect for you – you are national heroes.

I’ll never forget watching Samantha do just that – winning her first customer, sorting out the cash flow, that magic moment when she got her first business cards printed.

I was incredibly proud of her then – and I am incredibly proud of her now.

People setting up new businesses need finance – that’s why we’ve brought in Start-up Loans.

They need their taxes cut – and we’re doing it – up to £2000 off your National Insurance bill for every small business.

And it’s working.

Let me tell you how many businesses have started up in Britain since the election: over 300,000…

…that is 300,000 more reasons to finish the job we’ve started.

In a land of opportunity, more people must be able to own a home of their own.

You know that old saying, your home is your castle?

Well for most young people today, their home is their landlord’s.

Generation Y is starting to become Generation Why Do We Bother?

Millions of them stuck renting when they’re desperate to buy.

I met a couple on Sunday – Emily and James.

They’d both had decent jobs, but because they didn’t have rich parents, they couldn’t get a big enough deposit to buy a house.

And let me tell you where I met them.

In their new home, bought with our Help to Buy mortgage scheme.

It was still half built… but they showed me where the kitchen would be.

Outside there was rubble all over the ground, but they’d already bought a lawn-mower.

And they talked about how excited they were to be spending a first Christmas in a home of their own.

That is what we’re about…

…and this, the party of aspiration is going to finish the job we’ve started.

In a land of opportunity there’s another thing people need…

…the most important thing of all…

…more money in their pockets.

These have been difficult years.

People have found it hard to make ends meet.

That’s why we’ve frozen council tax…

…and why we are freezing fuel duty.

But we need to do more. I know that.

 

We’ve heard Labour’s ideas to help with the cost of living.

 

Taxes on banks they want to spend ten times over.

 

Promising free childcare – then saying that actually, you’ve got to pay for it.

An energy promise they admitted 24 hours later they might not be able to keep.

It’s all sticking plasters and quick fixes… cobbled together for the TV cameras.

Red Ed and his Blue Peter economy.

To raise living standards in the long-term, you need to do some major things:…

…you need to cut the deficit to keep mortgage rates low…

…you need to grow your economy, get people jobs…

…and yes – cut people’s taxes.

I want people to keep more of their money.

We’ve already cut the taxes of 25 million hardworking people…

…and yes – that is 25 million more reasons to finish the job we’ve started.

We’re Tories. We believe in low taxes. And believe me – we will keep on cutting the taxes of hardworking people.

NORTH SOUTH

And here in Manchester let me say this: when I say a land of opportunity for all I mean everyone – North and South.

This country has been too London-centric for far too long.

That’s why we need a new North-South railway line.

The fact is this.

The West Coast mainline is almost full.

We have to build a new railway…

…and the choice is between  another old-style Victorian one – or a high speed one.

Just imagine if someone had said, no, we can’t build the M1, or the Severn Bridge, imagine how that would be hobbling our economy today.

HS2 is about bringing North and South together in our national endeavour.

Because think of what more we could do with the pistons firing in all parts of our country.

With its wind and wave power, let’s make the Humber the centre of clean energy.

With its resources under the ground, let’s make Blackpool the centre of Europe for the shale gas industry.

With its brains and research centres, let’s make Manchester the world leader in advanced materials.

We’re building an economy for the North and South, embracing new technologies, producing things and selling them to the world.

So make no mistake who’s looking forward in British politics…

…we’ll leave the 1970s-style socialism to others…

…we are the party of the future.

We’re making progress.

You know how I know that?

It’s every week, at Prime Minister’s Questions.

There was a time when I’d look across to Ed Balls, and there he was, shouting his head off, and doing this with his hands – screaming out the economy was flat-lining…

…and all with such glee.

But recently, it’s gone a bit quiet.

Could it be because there was no double dip and the economy’s now growing?

Well, I’ve got a gesture of my own for Ed Balls…

…and don’t worry – it’s not a rude one…

…jobs are up…

…construction is up…

…manufacturing is up…

…inward investment…

…retail sales…

…homebuilding…

…business confidence…

…consumer confidence – all these things are up.

And to anyone who wants to talk our economy down, let me tell you this.

Since this conference began, over 100,000 jet planes have soared into the sky on wings made in Britain.

Every single day in this country, over 4,000 cars are coming off the production line – ready to be exported around the globe.

Last year, Britain overtook France as Germany’s top trading partner…

…not bad for a nation of shop-keepers.

And that’s the point.

Exports to China are up…

Exports to Brazil are up…

…exports to India, Russia, Thailand, South Korea, Australia – all up.

So let us never forget the cast-iron law of British politics…

Yes – the oceans can rise…

…and empires can fall…

…but one thing will never, ever change…

…it’s Labour who wreck our economy and it’s we Conservatives who clear it up.

EDUCATION

A land of opportunity means educating our children – and I mean all our children.

It’s OK for the children who have parents reading them stories every night – and that’s great…

…but what about the ones at the back of the class, in the chaotic home, in the home of the drug addict or alcoholic?

We need these children – and frankly they need us.

That’s why three and a half years ago, one man came into the Department of Education…

…Michael Gove, there he is…

…with a belief in excellence and massive energy…

…like a cross between Mr Chips and the Duracell bunny.

Let’s look at the results.

More students studying proper science.

More children learning a foreign language.

We’ve ended the dumbing down in exams.

For the first time – children in our schools will learn the new language of computer coding.

And we’re sending a clear message to children: if you fail English and maths GCSE, you’re going to have to take and re-take them again until you pass.

Because as I tell my own children – there’s not a job in the world where you don’t need to spell and add up properly.

But ultimately – really raising standards means innovation, choice…

…it means giving passionate people the freedom to run our schools.

That’s what Free Schools are all about.

I’ll never forget sitting in the classroom at Perry Beeches III in Birmingham, on the first day of term this year.

I met a mum there who said to me – this is what I’ve dreamed of for my child…

…proper uniforms, high standards…

…this is going to give my child a good start in life.

When Michael Howard asked me what job I wanted in the Shadow cabinet I said education…

…because this is the kind of thing I came into politics to bring about.

You want to know something totally extraordinary about free schools?

Labour’s official policy is to be against them…

…but – get this – Labour MPs are backing them in their local area.

And not just any Labour MPs.

I promise I’m not making this up..

…the Shadow Education Secretary – Stephen Twigg – has backed one in his own city.

Unbelievable.

And isn’t that always the way with the Left?

They don’t like privilege – unless of course it’s for their own children.

Well we in this Party are ambitious for all our children…

…and we’ve got to finish the job we started.

We’ve already got technical colleges run by great companies like JCB…

…I say: let’s have one of those colleges in every single major town.

We’ve had a million apprenticeships start with this Government…

…now we want a new expectation: as you leave school you have a choice – go to university or do an apprenticeship.

And while we’ve still got children leaving primary school not reading, writing and adding up properly…

…let us set this ambition for our country: let’s eliminate illiteracy and give every one of those children a chance.

And friends as we do all this, we’re remembering the most vulnerable children of all.

There are thousands of children every year who grow up in homes where nappies – and bedclothes – go unchanged…

…and where their cries of pain go unheard.

These children just need the most basic opportunity of all: a loving family.

Two years ago I told you about our determination to speed up adoption…

…and this past year, we saw record numbers finding permanent, loving homes.

4000 children adopted…

…that is 4000 more reasons to finish the job we’ve started.

And as we keep on with this, we remember who is on the front line.

I have to make some tough decisions in my job…

…but none as tough as whether to break up a family and rescue a child… or try and stitch that family back together.

Social work is a noble and vital calling.

I’ll never forget how after my son Ivan was born, a social worker sat patiently in our kitchen and told us about the sort of help we might need.

This Government has helped get some of the brightest graduates into teaching…

…and we have pledged to do the same for social work…

…now let us, in this hall, hear it for Britain’s social workers who are doing such an important job in our country today.

WELFARE

The land of opportunity needs one final thing: welfare that works.

We know how badly things went wrong.

Our fellow citizens working every hour of every day to put food on the table ask this: why should my taxes go to people who could work but don’t?

Or to those who live in homes that hardworking people could never afford?

Or to people who have no right to be here in the first place?

I say this to the British people: you have every right to be angry about a system that is unfair and unjust – and that’s why we are sorting it out.

We’ve capped welfare.  We’ve capped housing benefit.  We’ve insisted on new rules so that if you reject work, you lose benefits.

And let’s be absolutely clear.

As Boris said in that great speech yesterday, the problems in our welfare system and the problems in our immigration system are inextricably linked.

If we don’t get our people back to work – we shouldn’t be surprised if millions want to come here to work.

But we must act on immigration directly too – and we are.

Capping immigration. Clamping down on the bogus colleges.

And when the Immigration Bill comes before Parliament, we will make sure some simple and fair things, that should have always been the case, are now set in stone.

If you are not entitled to our free National Health Service, you should pay for it.

If you have no right to be here, you cannot rent a flat or a house.  Not off the council, not off anyone else.

When you are a foreign prisoner fighting deportation, you should pay your own legal bills.

If you appeal – you must do it from your own country, after you’ve been deported, not from here.

And on these huge, national problems we are making progress.

Immigration has come down.

On welfare: not only are there more people in work than ever before…

…the number of households where no one works is at its lowest rate since records began…

…and I want to thank the most determined champion for social justice this Party has ever had: Iain Duncan Smith.

Iain understands that this isn’t about fixing systems, it’s about saving lives…

…and that’s why we’ve got to finish the job we’ve started.

There are still over a million young people not in education, employment, or training.

Today it is still possible to leave school, sign on, find a flat, start claiming housing benefit and opt for a life on benefits.

It’s time for bold action here.

We should ask, as we write our next manifesto, if that option should really exist at all.

Instead we should give young people a clear, positive choice:

Go to school. Go to college. Do an apprenticeship. Get a job.

But just choose the dole? We’ve got to offer them something better than that.

And let no one paint ideas like this as callous.

Think about it: with your children, would you dream of just leaving them to their own devices, not getting a job, not training, nothing?

No – you’d nag and push and guide and do anything to get them on their way… and so must we.

So this is what we want to see: everyone under 25 – earning or learning.

And you know – on this, as on everything else, Labour will fight us…

…but remember: we are giving people real opportunities.

I’ve had people say to me “I’m back on my feet”… “I feel worthwhile.”

One wrote to me saying: now I can tell my son his Dad really does something.

This is what our Party is all about.

We don’t patronise people, put a benefit cheque in their hand and pat them on the head.

We look people in the eye as equals and say: yes, you’ve been down – but you’re not out…

…you can do it, you have it in you, we will give you that chance.

And that’s why we can say today that it’s this Party that is fighting for all those who were written off by Labour…

…it’s this Party that’s for the many not the few…

…Yes – the land of despair was Labour…

…but the land of hope is Tory.

We have done some big things to transform Britain.

But we need to finish the job we’ve started.

We need to go further, do more for hardworking people…

…give more children a chance, back more businesses, help create more jobs.

And I’m clear about how that job will best get done.

It requires a strong Government, with a clear mandate, that is accountable for what it promises and yes, what it delivers.

And let me tell everyone here what that means.

When the election comes, we won’t be campaigning for a coalition…

…we will be fighting heart and soul for a majority Conservative Government – because that is what our country needs.

CONCLUSION

You don’t do this job to be popular.

You do it because you love your country.

I do the best I can. And for me, it comes back to some simple things.

Country first. Do what’s decent. Think long-term.

There’s an old story that’s told about a great hall in Oxford, near my constituency.

For hundreds of years it’s stood there – held up with vast oak beams.

In the 19th century, those beams needed replacing.

And you know what they found?

500 years before, someone had thought… those beams will need replacing one day…

…so they planted some oak trees.

Just think about that.

Centuries had passed… Columbus had reached America… Gravity had been discovered…

…and when those oaks were needed, they were ready.

Margaret Thatcher once said: “We are in the business of planting trees for our children and grandchildren or we have no business being in politics at all.”

That is what we are doing today.

Not just making do and mending…

…but making something better.

Since I got to my feet, almost a hundred children have been born across this country.

Children of wealth – and children of none.

Children of parents in work – and children of parents out of work.

For every single one of those new-born babies let us pledge today that we will build something better…

…a land of opportunity.

A country built on that enduring principle, seared in our hearts, that if you work hard, save, play by the rules and do your fair share – then nothing should stand in your way.

A new economy.

A new welfare system.

A new set of values in our schools.

Not just fixing the mess we inherited – but building something better.

We’ve got a year and a half until that election…

…a year and a half until Britain makes a choice: move forward to something better or go back to something worse…

…but I believe that if this party fights with all we have, then this country will make the right choice.

Because we always have before.

Whenever we’ve had the choice of giving in to some shabby compromise or pushing forward to something better we’ve said: this is Great Britain…

…the improbable hero of history…

…the country that doesn’t give in, that doesn’t give up…

…that knows there’s no such thing as destiny – only our determination to succeed.

So I look to our future and I’m confident.

There are battles to fight but beyond this hall are the millions of hardworking people who renew the great in Great Britain every day…

…in the way they work and the way they give and raise their families.

These are the people we have alongside us…

…together we’ve made it this far…

…together we’ll finish the job we’ve started…

…together we’ll build that land of opportunity.

David Cameron – 2013 Interview on Syria

davidcameron

Below is the transcript of the interview given by the Prime Minister, David Cameron, on the situation in Syria on 27th August 2013.

Question

Prime Minister, have you made a decision on UK military intervention in Syria and, if so, what’s the case for it?

Prime Minister

Well, no decision has yet been taken. But let’s be clear what is at stake here. Almost a hundred years ago, the whole world came together and said that the use of chemical weapons was morally indefensible and completely wrong. And what we’ve seen in Syria are appalling scenes of death and suffering because of the use of chemical weapons by the Assad regime. And I don’t believe we can let that stand.

Now of course, any action we take or others take would have to be legal, would have to be proportionate. It would have to be specifically to deter and degrade the future use of chemical weapons. Let me stress to people: this is not about getting involved in a Middle Eastern war, or changing our stance in Syria, or going further into that conflict. It’s nothing to do with that. It’s about chemical weapons. Their use is wrong and the world shouldn’t stand idly by.

Question

So it’s clear it’s a tactical move possibly. But what do you say to the millions of people who will see this in their front rooms tonight, who will say, “What’s Syria got to do with risking the lives of UK service men and women, and spending millions of pounds in UK taxpayers’ money?”

Prime Minister

Well the question we have to ask ourselves is, if there is no action following this big use of chemical weapons, is it going to be more likely in future that more and more regimes will use chemical weapons? That this regime will use them again and again on a larger scale, and we’ll see more death and more suffering? It must be right to have some rules in our world, and to try to enforce those rules.

Now of course, as Prime Minister, I take my responsibilities about safeguarding our armed services incredibly carefully, incredibly seriously. But the question we need to ask is whether acting or not acting will make the use of chemical weapons more prevalent.

Question

So you’re going to ask your MPs and other MPs, on Thursday, to specifically support military action, are you? And if you lose the vote, does that mean that’s off the table?

Prime Minister

Well, as I’ve said, no decision has yet been taken. Any decision would have to be proportionate, would have to be legal, would have to be about specifically deterring the use of chemical weapons. But I’ve recalled parliament so this issue can be properly debated, so the government can listen to views in parliament. And yes, it is my intention to put forward a motion in parliament so that members of parliament will be able to vote.

Now, obviously this is a developing situation and, as I say, decisions haven’t been taken. But we shouldn’t stand by when we see this massive use of chemical weapons, the appalling levels of suffering, morally reprehensible, something the world came together almost a hundred years ago and said, “These weapons shouldn’t be used”, and they are being used here in Syria. And that is why, in my view, we need to discuss the need to act.

Interviewer

MPs want verification, they want clarification on the endgame, on the legality. What do you say to them? They’re just not convinced at this stage.

Prime Minister

Well of course, I think in parliament is the right place to set out all of the arguments, to deal with all of the questions. But I would say this to people: there is never 100% certainty; there is never one piece, or several pieces of intelligence, that can give you absolutely certainty.

But what we know is, this regime has huge stocks of chemical weapon. We know that they have used them on at least ten occasions prior to this last wide-scale use. We know that they have both the motive and the opportunity, whereas the opposition does not have those things, and the opposition’s chance of having used chemical weapons, in our view, is vanishingly small. We know all these things.

The question now for us is, are we more likely to deter the future use of chemical weapons by acting or not acting? That’s the consideration. But let me say again, I understand people’s concerns about getting involved in wars in the Middle East, getting sucked into the situation in Syria. This is not about wars in the Middle East. This is not even about the Syrian conflict. It is about the use of chemical weapons and making sure, as a world, we deter their use and we deter the appalling scenes that we’ve all seen on our television screens.

David Cameron – 2013 Speech at Siemens

davidcameron

Below is the text of the speech made by the Prime Minister, David Cameron, at Siemens in Lincoln on 16th July 2013.

Prime Minister

Thank you. Well, thank you for the welcome and it’s great to be here at Siemens, great to be here in Lincoln. And I think there’s lots of good reasons for being here because what I want to talk about very briefly today is our economy and how I believe our economy is on the mend. I think it’s getting better, I think it’s improving. It’s still early days; it’s still hard work. And one of the reasons it’s getting better is businesses like yours.

I think we all know that in this country we became too reliant on financial services, too reliant on the south of England. We needed to do more to make things again, design things again, export things again and that is exactly what you do here at Siemens. This is a business that exports over 90% of what you do. You’re helping Britain compete and succeed in the global race. And you’re also helping in other important ways in that you are helping train young people.

You take on some 15 apprentices every year but you don’t just do that, you support an engineering school at the university and you’re starting up a UTC – a University Technical College – to help give young people education and training that will give them the ability to work in great businesses like this. So I think it’s a good place to come and visit, to come and hear about what you do, because I think it’s absolutely vital we continue the work of mending our economy.

Now, I’m not going to stand here and say that the job is done or even half-done. I’m not going to say that everything is being fixed, but what I will argue is that we’re making some progress. We said we are going to have to deal with the deficit, which was one of the biggest in the world when we came to office, and we’ve paid down a third of that deficit. We said we needed more jobs in the private sector. Of course, we’ve lost jobs in the public sector – that was inevitable when you have to make cuts – but we created something like 1.3 million jobs in the private sector. We said that we need new small businesses starting up as the engine of growth, and we’ve seen some of the fastest rates of new businesses growing in our country in recent years.

So I think the economy is on the move, it is on the mend, but we have got a long way to go. And we’re only going to keep improving it if, actually, we back people who work hard, who want to do the right thing, and help them get a good place at school, get a good apprenticeship, start their own business and make something of their lives. And that’s what this government should be all about, and that’s what I’m focused on – not anything else, but focused on helping people with their aspirations to get a good job, to make something of their lives and to back businesses like this.

Anyway, I promised no long speech from me so that is it from me. It’s now your questions and my attempt to answer them. And you can ask about anything you like. It doesn’t mean I’ll answer, but I’ll have a go. So who wants to go first? Just put your hand in the air and there are roving microphones.

Question

In the UK we’re an importer of energy. I’m just wondering what the government’s policy is to make sure that we don’t have the lights turned off.

Prime Minister

Well, I think energy security is absolutely vital. It’s one of the tasks of government to make sure we’ve got plentiful supplies of energy and that it’s not too expensive. And we’re going through a big change right now. You know, our old nuclear power stations are running out of time and being switched off. We should become less reliant on coal for environmental and other reasons. So we have to put a lot of investment into our energy industries.

And what we’re seeing is, first of all, we’ve got a good contribution from gas in our country. We’ve still got a lot of reserves of gas in the North Sea and we’ve got pretty secure imports of gas from different parts of the world; we’re not reliant on any one part of the world. We’re not like some countries that get so much of their gas from Russia; we hardly get any of our gas from Russia. So I think we’ve good secure supplies of gas.

We’re going to invest in new nuclear energy. We’ve got Hinkley Point, where a decision I think will be made quite soon and I hope it’ll be a positive one to have a brand new nuclear power station. And I think it’s also important alongside gas, alongside nuclear, to make sure we also invest in some of the renewable technologies. Now they’re not going to be all of the answer, of course not, but I think to make sure we get some of our energy from on and offshore wind and that we look at some of the other technologies – wave and tidal power – I think it’s very sensible for a country like ours.

So what we’ve done, as a government, is actually set out a pretty clear framework. So if you’re an investor into say offshore wind in the North Sea, and we have 70% of Europe’s offshore wind capacity here in the UK, you know that if you build your plant before the end of 2017 you know exactly what you’re going to be paid for the next 20 years.

So Siemens are a big investor in this area. I recently went to the opening of the largest offshore wind farm anywhere in the world, which is called the London Array off the coast of Kent, and we hope that Siemens will go on investing in this technology. It’s not the whole answer but it’s part of the answer.

So a mixture of gas, of nuclear, of renewables I think can make sure we have plentiful supplies of energy. But we’re going to make doubly sure by having something called a capacity payment, so we’re going to introduce a system where we very openly buy a little bit more electricity than we need effectively – a bit more generating capacity than we need – so that we have a buffer, just in case demand rises faster than some people predict. So I’m confident that we’ll solve that problem and make sure we keep the lights on and can supply industry and consumers with plentiful supplies of energy.

Question

On an almost directly-related topic, we’ve been waiting in Siemens with bated breath for the Hull announcement. Kind of would you like to say ‘yes’ today?

Prime Minister

Well, I would love to hear a ‘yes’ today. Look, I think this is a great opportunity, not just for Siemens, I think it’s a great opportunity for Britain. I think if you look at the Humber Estuary you can see that that has an opportunity, if you like, to be a sort of Aberdeen of wind. I mean, you’ve got Aberdeen with the offshore oil industry. I think that Humberside, the Humber Estuary, can be a real hub of investment in industry for the offshore and onshore wind.

So, it’s Siemens’ decision whether they go ahead with this plant in Hull. All I can say is I think the government’s done everything it possibly could in terms of making available finance, in terms of explaining how the energy market is going to work, in terms of giving guarantees against future changes of policy. I’ve even rung up the Chief Executive on one or two occasions, so it’s – in the end it’s a commercial decision for Siemens, a commercial business.

But I think the framework for the energy industries in the UK is probably as clear as anywhere in the world. And you see that from overseas investors who are investing in our nuclear industries, our offshore wind industries, other industries. They say, ‘You’ve set out what the regime is for getting your payments and so it’s now up to us to spend the money.’ So I hope it’ll be a yes and I think we’ll find out maybe today maybe tomorrow.

Question

You’ve talked about energy security. I wonder what your view is on fracking, particularly in the more sensitive areas of the country like Surrey and Dorset.

Prime Minister

Well, I’m in favour of fracking. I think – look, if you look at the big picture, what do we need to do in our country to be a success, right?

We live in a very competitive world. You’ve got the rise of India, the rise of China, these great economies powering ahead. How are we in Britain going to be a success story in the 21st century just like we were in the 20th century? Well, we’re going to be a success story if we play to our strengths, if we invest in great businesses, if we keep up with science and technology, if we invest in our great universities, if we go on inventing things. But as well as that, you’ve got to exploit the new industries and you’ve got to make sure your energy prices aren’t rising ahead of your competitors.

Now, the unconventional gas gained by so-called fracking; if you look at what’s happened in America I think there’s a real lesson for us here in the UK. In America they are now almost self-sufficient in gas. Their gas prices to business are now less than half as much as ours are and the reason for this is they have put a lot of investment into unconventional gas. The figures are actually quite frightening. Europe as a whole has 75% as much unconventional gas as America, so we’ve got less in Europe than America. But whereas they are digging 10,000 wells a year, so far in Europe we’ve dug just 100, so we are way behind.

So I am in favour of fracking. The government is making it easier. We’ve set up an office of unconventional gas. We’re trying to streamline the permissions and the permits that you need. But, of course, there will be sensitivities. We are a relatively crowded island, whereas obviously in, you know, North Dakota in America it’s been easier to dig wells when you’ve got fewer people living on each part of your country, but we should be able to take advantage of this. So, let’s streamline the process; let’s make it possible.

And then of course there will be a public debate locally, but I think one of the ways we can get over this – and I have been making sure we do this – one of the ways we can get over this is if local communities can see the benefit themselves. And so, what we’ve said is for every well dug there should be an immediate £100,000 payment to the local community.

Now, that should be just the start, because of course if you hit unconventional gas supplies and you start to exploit them, that will generate a lot of revenue. And I think the way to get over – some places, obviously, it won’t be appropriate because of the amount of people living there and all the rest of it but, otherwise, I think the way to get over public concern is to say there’ll be real community benefits, and not just benefits going to your local council, but benefits going to your parish, going to your district, going to your – effectively, to yourself, as well. I think if we do that, people will see, ‘Okay, there are downsides of this, there are upsides, but I am going to have a personal investment in it.’ And I think if we do that we can make sure the unconventional gas revolution comes to the UK, and that’ll make us more competitive and give us more secure and cheaper supplies of energy at the same time.

Question

There’s a projection for the NHS over the next six or seven years, that there’s going to be a serious shortfall in the funding. How do you intend to cover that?

Prime Minister

Yeah, very good question; I mean, I think this is a real test for any government, frankly. We got in three years ago with this budget deficit, so what we were spending was much more than what we were getting in taxes – in fact, it was worse than almost anywhere in the world. So, we had to make some cuts. And, actually, as a government, we chose not to cut the NHS. My view was the NHS is too precious; we all rely on it, our families rely on it, so there should be and there will be in this parliament, modest increases in NHS spending.

But frankly, even modest increases in NHS spending aren’t really enough to cope with the pressures on the NHS, because we’re an ageing population, we’re living longer, there are new treatments coming along that are expensive. So, as you say, sir, there is a funding challenge.

How do we meet that? Well, I think the first thing we have to do is try and make sure that we’re spending every penny as wisely as we possibly could, and that’s why one of the things we did in the recent spending announcement is actually we took some NHS money and we gave it to local authorities to spend on social care, to spend it on helping get those people who are blocked in hospital beds, costing the NHS a fortune, who could be better off at home or in a care home properly looked after.

So, I think if we’re more efficient, if we spend the money wisely, I think we can make sure that the NHS deals with the pressures on it. But it’s not going to be easy. And obviously, today you hear the news that we’ve looked into – or the NHS has looked into the 14 hospitals with the highest unexplained death rates, and, you know, I am a big fan of our NHS. I love our NHS. I never want to see any harm come to our NHS but, frankly, we don’t serve our NHS if we cover up wrongdoing and problems. We’ve got to look at those problems, we’ve got to look at any instances of poor levels of care or poor management, and we’ve got to deal with them, and I don’t think the last government did enough of that. I think that they sort of said to the inspectorates, ‘Don’t give us the bad news, I don’t want to know;’ you know, ‘Talk to the hand, the government doesn’t want to hear.’

I do want to know. If there are things going wrong at, say, Stafford Hospital, or things going wrong at any Lincolnshire hospitals, we need to hear about that, we need to send in teams to help turn them around, we need to make sure people get a good service. Now, it will be testing, meeting this funding challenge but, actually, if we spend the money wisely – small, real-terms increases when other public services are taking spending reductions – I think we can deliver a really good NHS.

Question

You mentioned our apprentices, and we are very proud of the apprenticeship programme at Lincoln. Recently, Siemens in Lincoln took part in one of your programmes at the Employer Ownership of Skills programme; we had a very successful pre-employment training programme in Lincoln. I just wonder if you can assure us that you will make sure that red tape and bureaucracy won’t descend upon employers away from the Skills Funding Agency, because there is some indications that that might be going to happen.

Prime Minister

I think this is a real worry. I mean, businesses like yours take on apprentices every year, and that is good for you and it’s good for the country; it’s good for the young people concerned. And there have been something like 1.2 million apprentices taken on since the election; we have put a lot of money apprentices, we’re very keen on the programme. But I think for big businesses like yours, it’s one thing coping with the paperwork and the bureaucracy. For smaller firms, it can be just a no-no; they decide, ‘I don’t want to go near this.’

So, what we’ve done is create a more streamlined system. We have said to big businesses like yours, ‘You don’t have to partner with a training organisation to run these apprenticeships; you can run your own schemes and do it your own way.’ And we have said to small firms, ‘If you haven’t taken on an apprentice before, we’ll give you a bounty – we’ll give you a bonus, for taking on your first apprentices.’ So, I think that bit we can get right.

The bit I’m more concerned about – and it was very interesting talking to some of the apprentices here this morning – is I still don’t think we are getting it right in school, explaining to young people what are the career options. I don’t blame teachers for this, in a way; most teachers, they went to school, they did their A-levels, they went to university. They’re very familiar with that path, but I don’t think we do enough to say to young people that you can get an apprenticeship at 16, you can get a different sort of apprenticeship at 18, there are now higher-level apprenticeships which are the equivalent of a university degree, there are all these earning and learning options aside from the A-level and university option, and I think we need to do better at that. And I think businesses can help us do that by getting into schools and telling young people early on what are the options.

But I think apprentices should be a major growth area for Britain. You know, this is a German company, and I’m not embarrassed to say it: I think the Germans have done apprentices better than the British. There are lots of things the British do better than the Germans, of course – football, cricket, even tennis, now, fortunately – but this is something we can learn from the Germans. They have a fantastically low youth unemployment rate; so do the Dutch. We’re some way behind that. We’re ahead of the Spanish and the Italians and some others, but we can learn more from the Germans when it comes to apprenticeships.

Question

You mentioned about apprentices. What’s being done after the training from your point of view at the moment, and what needs to be done, to ensure the skills stay in the country, within jobs and within business?

Prime Minister

Well, how do we keep the skills in the country once you’ve trained them up? We have got to do more to help businesses. So, you know, if we want to rebalance this economy we don’t want to see less financial services – it’s a good industry, something Britain’s good at – but we want to see more manufacturing, more technology, more aerospace, more in the auto industry.

How do we do that? Well, we’ve got to go through all the things that manufacturing and technology businesses want from the government. Now, I would say there are about three or four things. You want support for apprenticeships because they’re vital for you, so the government’s putting money into apprenticeships. You want support for research and development to develop new products, so we have a tax credit specifically for every pound you spend on research and development. Businesses need competitive and low tax rates, so even at a time of difficult public spending and tax decisions, we have taken the British rate of corporation tax down to 20%, which means that you pay less corporation tax here in Britain than you do in any other G7 or G8 or in fact, I think, G20 country, so we can say to companies like Siemens, ‘Invest more in Britain. Build more in Britain. This is a good place to work.’ Some areas of the country need help more than others, so Enterprise Zones have been another way of encouraging businesses to expand and invest here.

And then I think the last thing that manufacturing businesses need – you’ve got to move product around. It’s not just having access to broadband; you need those physical networks, so we need to invest more in roads, in railways, in port infrastructure, all of which is happening in the UK, again in spite of the cuts. You know, we cut the police by 20% – very difficult decision to make. Actually, I think the police have coped brilliantly with it; they have made themselves more efficient, we haven’t seen a big reduction in police officers. But, as a result, we – as a result of difficult decisions like that, we have been able to spend money on capital – on roads, on railways, on port infrastructure – that will make us more competitive and enable us to win.

So, all those things, and I expect some of the people in your firm could think of some other things we should be doing as well. But I think that would be a good start.

Question

Is the NHS safe in your hands? I mean, clearly we’re going to have some revelations from the Keogh review today; what are you going to do to make things better, and when will it be safe for people to go back to hospital in Lincoln?

Prime Minister

Well, first of all, the NHS is completely safe in this government’s hands. We absolutely believe in it, we have invested in it; whereas we’ve had to cut some other public services, we’ve increased NHS investment every year. We should, at the same time of pointing out the difficult things in our health service, we should point out the success stories. Mixed-sex wards are almost abolished, infection rates in hospitals are now down at record lows, waiting lists and waiting times are in a good and reasonable place.

There’s much to celebrate in our NHS, and I love our NHS and I never want to do it any harm, but we don’t serve our NHS by covering up problems and difficulties, and clearly there are some hospitals with too-high mortality rates. It’s right to investigate them and it’s right also as the Health Secretary’s done today to identify those hospitals where we’re going to put them into special measures, send in help to turn them around, and make sure they go back to providing the very best service.

That’s what’s happening today. It’s right to highlight problems where they are, but they’re being dealt with, and people can know that they have a good National Health Service that they can be proud to use and proud to see improved at the same time.

Question

Prime Minister, in light of the release of the BBC’s Annual Report, do you think it’s right that taxpayers are legally required to pay the licence fee while BBC executives are receiving pay-offs of nearly £1 million?

Prime Minister

Well, I think the BBC has to be very careful with the money that it spends. The BBC is in a unique position because it has the licence fee. I support the licence fee. But going with the licence fee is the responsibility to spend that money wisely, and I think it’s quite clear some of the BBC pay-offs have been too high and there hasn’t been enough rigour in this whole process, as was demonstrated in front of the Select Committee, and they need to be more rigorous in the future.

The BBC has strong public support, but they won’t keep that support unless they spend the money wisely.

Question

It’s a question that must be on everybody’s lips, right, and what sort of message does it send out that the politicians or the MPs are looking at 10% pay rises when we’re seeing cuts in public spending and armed forces? And people like ourselves, you know, that we could only wish for a 10% pay rise. But I’d like your opinion.

Prime Minister

I agree, it is – round of applause for that man. I agree. I don’t think it is appropriate. I mean, what happened in the last parliament, just so we remember, there was the scandal about expenses, and the last government decided to make the body that decides MPs’ pay completely separate and independent from Parliament. So it makes a decision.

But I’ve said very clearly to them, including in my office, you know, you can’t propose a pay increase at the time when public sector workers have been told it’s a 1% pay increase and that’s it. You can’t suggest that. And, secondly, whatever you do, whatever you suggest and whenever you try and implement it, you’ve got to cut the cost of politics rather than increase it.

Now, I think there are costs in politics that we could reduce. There are still excesses in the system. And so I’ve said to that body – and they haven’t made a final decision; this pay rise is not written down in stone, it’s not being implemented, there’s a consultation going on. I’ve said to them, ‘Go away and cut the cost of politics, and don’t introduce a pay rise at the time when people are suffering public sector pay restraint.’ And I think that is the right answer.

So we’ll have to see what they say, but they’ve had a pretty clear message from all three party leaders pretty much saying the same thing to them. And they have got time to think again.

Question

You’ve mentioned the potential Siemens investment for the Humber. You’ve even said an announcement could be expected maybe today, maybe tomorrow, in your words. I’d like you to clarify that. But I’d also ask you as a government, do you think you’ve done enough to attract this company into this country?

Prime Minister

Well, first of all, it’s up to Siemens, their decision and the timing of their decisions. That’s not under my control. What is under my control is to say to Siemens we welcome your investment into the UK, we back your business, we support your apprenticeships, we back you with tax credits, we’ve given you the lowest corporate tax rate you could possibly expect, we’re a big fan of your company and we want you to do more here. It’ll be their decision. We have to be competitive with other countries. But as I said, I think the Humber Estuary is right for that sort of development.

But let’s be clear, you know, Britain has got many strengths when it comes to business and industry, and we need to play to all those strengths. As I said, there’s a lot of excitement in our universities, there are a lot of auto industries investing in this country right now. If you look at the British car industry, I’m proud; I’ve got my Jaguar Land Rover cufflinks on from another visit just like this. You know, we’ve got Jaguar Land Rover booming in Britain, we’ve got Honda, Nissan, Toyota, all expanding in Britain. BMW, one of your German sister companies, making Minis just outside my constituency, which wherever I travel in the world I see these fantastic examples of British design and manufacture running round the streets.

So there’s lots to celebrate in terms of Britain’s industrial future, and this government is absolutely behind backing it every step of the way.

Question

Exporting is second nature to this business, but we know how difficult it is. What’s the government doing to encourage and help new exporters from the UK?

Prime Minister

Very good question. It’s one of my favourite statistics. At the moment, one in five of British small businesses export. And if we could turn that from one in five to one in four, we’d wipe out our trade balance altogether. So this is a big national effort required.

What we have, starting at the very top, I hired the Head of HSBC to come into my government as Trade Minister. He’s worked his socks off for the last two and a half years, and I’m replacing him with the Head of BT, one of the most successful British companies that there is in the last few years. And Ian Livingston’s going to be the new Trade Minister starting after the summer, and we have an organisation, UKTI, whose job it is to go round the country and get small businesses to export by encouraging them, by giving them the knowledge, the confidence, a bit of financial help sometimes. And we should do that.

I also take trade missions all over the world. I think if you look at every G20 country, I’ve taken a trade mission to every one apart from Argentina; for some reason I haven’t yet made it to Argentina, but no guesses there.

So I think a big national effort and, you know, we could do better at this. I don’t think there’s any one silver bullet; I think it’s really about encouraging the smaller businesses. For some of the bigger companies, I think export credits have been an issue, particularly in the difficult years of 2008–2010 when credit dried up, and some people say credit’s still not flowing fast enough now. We have introduced some new products to help ensure people’s exports, particularly in big businesses, and we’ve expanded that. And we need to keep working, making sure we’ve got the right products so the exporters really want to use them.

I think if we do all those things, I think it’s important we use all our international connections and expertise. I think Britain is fortunate in that we’re in the G8, the G20, the European Union, the OECD, NATO, the Commonwealth. You know, we are in all the key networks, and we need to exploit all of our memberships of those networks to get the best for our country. And I think we’ve got to look beyond Europe and recognise the fastest-growing economies in the world are going to be, you know, the Russias, the Indias, the Chinas, Malaysia, Indonesia, those countries, and we’ve got to encourage businesses, yes, export to Europe, but also look further afield and build on Britain’s capabilities there.

Again, while we made cuts, actually, when you look at the Foreign Office and our network of embassies around the world, I’ve asked them to be more efficient. I’ve asked them to cut back on some of the excesses. But I’ve said, ‘Actually, we need to open more embassies, more trade missions, more posts around the world.’ I think we’re one of the only European countries with an embassy in every one of the ASEAN countries in Southeast Asia.

So the network’s there, and I hope Siemens will use it, you know. They may be our embassies, but as far as I’m concerned, British businesses, British-based businesses, should use them as your home when you’re exporting.

Question

I just wanted to ask about a big topic in the news at the moment, which is the involvement of our government and GCHQ in mass data collection. This is obviously a very important issue, because we use a lot more data in this day and age than we ever have before, and I just would like to ask of your views.

Prime Minister

Yes, that is a very important question. It’s one of the – one of the biggest responsibilities of the Prime Minister; I am effectively the Minister for the Intelligence Services. And I think it’s very important to understand what they do, to try and explain to the British public what they do and why it’s so important.

So I think first of all, sort of stand back and look at the threats that we face. You know, we saw what happened in America on 9/11, we saw what happened here, 7/7, we know what threats we can face. Every year since I’ve been Prime Minister, our intelligence services have uncovered and prevented at least one major plot every year that could have been a mass casualty event.

So we are dealing with a very serious issue: our national security. And I think it’s very important that we have well funded security services – GCHQ that deals with communications, MI5, which is the domestic security service, and MI6, which deals with overseas intelligence – that we have them well funded, well organised but, crucially, within the law.

There are acts of parliament that determine what they are allowed to do and what they’re not allowed to do. And they’re overseen by a now much strengthened, intelligence and security committee that sits in parliament, that is headed by Sir Malcolm Rifkind, a former Foreign Secretary, that can examine all the work that they do.

And I’m satisfied that they act within the law. And I’m also satisfied, because this was important in the issues that came up, that they are not using their cooperation with foreign intelligence services to somehow get round the law; they’re not using data garnered from overseas to get round the restrictions that there are in the UK. And I think that’s vitally important. I mean, if you want me to say more I will.

Very simply put, because I think it’s quite reassuring when you hear this, if the police or intelligence service want to know the detail about a bit of communications, i.e. a mobile phone call that Mr A makes to Mr B. If they want to know simply who made the call, where were they, what was the time of the call or who were they calling, that so-called communications data, there is a legal process they have to go through to access that data. So there’s a legal process. But it is very important they can access that. Think of how many murders, rapes, abductions, terrorist investigations, you know… Almost all serious crime, the police will use communications data – the, ‘who called who, when and where?’ – they’ll use that data in the investigation. So it’s very important they have access to that data, all done legally.

That shouldn’t be confused with the content of communications, i.e. what Mr A said to Mr B. Now if the intelligence services want to listen to that they have to have a signed warrant by the Home Secretary. So that’s quite a high bar. So I’m very satisfied, and I’ve simplified it, but I’m very satisfied that garnering information about the data, who called who and when, and garnering information about the content are very strictly controlled in Britain. But do I think it’s important that we have security services, that they can do those things in order to keep us safe? Absolutely I do.

And I see at first hand these very brave people, who never get thanked because we’re not really allowed to know who they all are, working round the clock to keep us safe from very dangerous people who do us harm. So, nothing in the world is ever perfect, but I would argue we have a good system, well run, that we can be proud of in Britain, that helps to keep us safe.

Question

I’m from the Siemens Commercial Academy, which takes students from sixth form straight into full-time employment and funds your degree as well. This year, sadly, we’ve had to drop the degree because of the rise of university fees, which has resulted in the loss of applicants to our scheme. Are you trying to deter young people from going to university and getting a higher degree, a higher education, even given the state of, like, the unemployment in the young?

Prime Minister

That’s a very good question. The answer is: no we are absolutely not trying to deter young people to go to university. And, in fact, recently the numbers of young people applying has actually been increasing rather than falling.

But there is a big issue here which is how do we pay for good universities? It goes back to my argument: if we are going to be a winner in the global race, if we are going to be a success as a country, we’ve got to have good universities with well paid tutors, well stocked libraries, really great technical labs. That costs money. And the only two places you can get it from: you can get it from the taxpayer – but the taxpayer has already got to pay for everything else – or you can ask students to pay. So the decision we took was to say to students that we are going to charge you more in fees for your degree. But what we said, absolutely crucially, is you pay nothing up front. There is no up-front payments, and you only start paying it back when you’re earning over £21,000 a year. So it’s actually only better off students, only successful students that are paying back the money. You don’t start paying back in full until you’re earning £35,000.

So, look, it is a tough decision; it is difficult. But what it means is that our universities can continue to expand, our degree courses will be well funded. They’ll be competitive with other countries around the world, because there’s no point having second-rate degrees and second-rate universities. And I think it’s fair because we’re not asking people to pay back until they are earning a decent wage. But I know it is – it is difficult, but I think the evidence is beginning to show, not only, as I said, that numbers applying are looking good, but also the numbers applying from the most deprived backgrounds have increased. And that’s because we’ve put a lot of effort into bursaries and other packages to encourage people to go to university.

But again, a lot of what I have to do is about making tough decisions that are in the long-term interest of the country. And I think this fits squarely into that. And that’s what you have to do in business. Sometimes you have to make difficult decisions for the future of Siemens, for the future of manufacturing. You have to change things. You have to change processes in order to make sure your business goes on and succeeds in the future.

Can I think you again very much for the warm welcome. Thank you for letting me come and see the amazing work that you do here. Can I congratulate you again on 90% of your business being exports, the massive investment you make in young people and the big investment you make in Lincoln. Thank you very much.

David Cameron – 2013 Business in the Community Awards Speech

davidcameron

Below is the speech made by the Prime Minister, David Cameron, to the 2013 Business in the Community Awards held on the 2nd July 2013.

It’s a real pleasure to come and celebrate the work of so many of our leading businesses who are helping to make our country a better place.

Business in the Community are the great champions of this cause.

And it’s absolutely right that they should hold this…

…the Oscars of good, responsible business.

If you want to know why responsible business matters, look at our hosts this evening, Marks and Spencer….

….whose Shwopping scheme, brilliantly advocated by Joanna Lumley, has already raised £2.3 million for Oxfam.

Look at Trading for Good – a new free platform launched today to recognise what smaller businesses are doing in their local communities.

Look at innovative CEOs like Steve Holliday helping companies promote their vacancies to the unemployed…

… or Paul Drechsler showing businesses how to support schools.

And look at the growing number of business connectors…

…people seconded from business working for a year in our communities, to make the links between local business and the local organisations that need the most support.

All of them – and all of you here tonight – are proving two things that I believe very passionately.

The first is that business has a key role to play in building a bigger and stronger society.

The second, that responsible business is good business too.

I am a passionate believer in the free enterprise system.

I believe that starting a business, selling a product or service, turning a profit, investing and building…

…these are good and noble things.

They create the wealth and jobs we need.

But business has the capacity to do even more.

Responsible business can be the greatest force for social progress on the planet.

From worklessness to obesity…

…from the break-up of families to the break-down of communities…

…from environmental damage to economic dislocation…

…I simply cannot think of an area of public policy where the creative thinking of business wouldn’t help in delivering a better outcome.

And if we have learnt anything from the last two decades, it is surely this…

…that we can’t solve our social problems simply by government changing laws or passing down edicts from above.

We need business, charities and individuals to work together with government.

Not just government action but social action.

Not just government responsibility but personal and corporate responsibility.

That’s how we change our country for the better.

So yes, the moral case for responsible business is strong.

But just consider for a moment the economic case.

Let me explain.

Businesses want low taxes, and as little regulation and interference from government as possible.

And this is a government that is determined to do everything possible to achieve that.

That’s why we are cutting the red tape…

…and cutting corporation tax to 20%, the lowest of any major economy in the world.

But the truth is that governments don’t just interfere for the sake of it…

…they do so because there are problems in our society that need government spending to pay for them.

So responsible businesses can help.

You can help us to tackle the crime, the family breakdown, the education failure that causes the demand for public spending – and therefore taxes to rise.

And there is something else you can do.

You can make sure that low taxes are actually paid.

Right now taxes are higher than they need to be because the international tax system doesn’t work.

Some individuals and some companies are able to evade their responsibilities and that makes taxes higher for everyone else.

So when I made tackling tax evasion and aggressive tax avoidance a priority for the G8 in Northern Ireland last month…

…I wasn’t just doing what is right for good government…

…I was doing what is right for good business too.

Now there is one area where I’d like to make a particular plea for business help tonight…

…and that’s supporting our young people.

In the coming months HRH The Prince of Wales is launching a nationwide campaign…

…with the full support of myself, Ed Miliband and Nick Clegg…

…to help young people contribute to their communities through service to others.

From working with groups like the Scouts and Guides who have been leading the way on social action for over a century…

…to new programmes like National Citizen Service…

….the Campaign for Youth Social Action will bring together all the different ways in which young people can give something back to their community.

And it will seek to create a legacy of social action that we can pass down from generation to generation.

National Citizen Service is one of the newest parts of this…

…but it has the potential to be one of the biggest.

You know how it works.

Young people from different backgrounds come together…

…first, for an outdoor challenge that takes them outside their comfort zone and makes them work as teams…

…then living together back in their local area working with local businesses and community leaders to learn new skills…

…and finally making their own mark by planning and delivering a social action project that gives something back to their community.

From the first two years alone, we have 35,000 graduates.

This year we’ll double that.

And over time I want National Citizen Service to become a rite of passage in our country that can give our young people a sense of purpose, optimism and belonging.

But to do that – and to make the Campaign for Youth Social Action a great national project – we will need the help of business.

So I’m delighted that tonight the government is supporting a new award which recognises businesses which support social action for young people…

…and I would ask you all to think about what more you can do.

Because this campaign isn’t about government.

And it isn’t about party politics either.

It’s about how together we help young people understand the value of social responsibility.

It’s about the expectations we set.

The culture we build.

It’s about equipping our young people with the skills and character to work, to contribute, to make our country what it can be.

In short, it’s about our future.

So as the children from Emerald Music School who just performed for us so brilliantly put it: imagine it possible.

And then let’s go and make it so.

Thank you very much for listening.

Congratulations again on all that you are doing to make our country a better place.

And have a great evening.

David Cameron – 2013 Teach First Speech

davidcameron

Below is the text of the speech made in welcome to Teach First representatives during their visit to Downing Street, London, on 8th July 2013.

Well, a very, very warm welcome to Number 10 Downing Street. I am an enormous fan of Teach First, of the whole idea of everything that you do, of the massive achievement that you are bringing to our schools. So it is a real privilege to welcome you here.

When you’re a leader of a political party, or Prime Minister, you do get some amazing days out. And obviously I had a pretty amazing day out yesterday at the tennis. And there are other things you get to go and see: the SAS train in Hereford or you get to go and see some of our most incredible universities. I remember going to one where they were working on the Space Programme and the guy said, ‘This really is rocket science.’

But I remember one of the most inspiring days I’ve had in the seven years that I’ve led a political party, and that was going to spend some time on one of your Teach First training days. And I saw then, in the early days of Teach First, the incredible potential of what you do. And in the spirit of teaching I tried to remember my homework for today’s meeting and I want to give you three statistics.

Statistic number one, which is why we need you so badly, is there are 80,000 children every year on free school meals, but typically only 40 of them get to the very best of our universities. And that is, I think, a standing rebuke to us as a country in terms of social mobility and educational attainment.

The second of the figures I have, which I think shows the incredible potential of what you do, is that Teach First is now not only the biggest graduate recruiter, but it is also the fastest growing. So this to me says that there is an incredible appetite for this brilliant programme, and I think that is hugely welcome.

The third of my statistics is also, I think, quite important, which is that we have quadrupled the number of Teach First graduates over the last three and a half years. So I think when you put those things together you can see a programme that is absolutely needed, a programme that is incredibly popular and a programme that has the full support of the Department of Education, the Secretary of State and the Prime Minister.

And let me just say a few of the things about why I like this programme so much. And the most important thing is the context for all of this, and the day today when we launched the new National Curriculum. The context is very simple. We are in a global race. We have to make sure that our students and our school are as good, as stretched, as talented as those in Shanghai, in Singapore, in Helsinki or wherever. We have to compare ourselves to the best in the world and ask ourselves, ‘How can we be up there with the best?’ And that to me is absolutely what Teach First is about.

I asked, I think all of the Teach First graduates out there the same question, which is, ‘When you went to university did you think you were going to become a teacher?’ And the answer from every single one was the same, ‘No I didn’t. I thought actually that probably wasn’t something I’d do. I was going to be a banker,’ or, ‘I was going to be a lawyer,’ or, worse, ‘I was going to be a politician.’

No-one said they were going to be a teacher and I think what Teach First has done is just inspired some of the best and brightest in our country to consider teaching. I think that is something to really celebrate.

I think the fact that Teach First graduates go into some of our most challenging areas and some of our most challenging schools is also something to celebrate. Because you should judge a country by not how well it does for those who have all the natural advantages, but for those who actually don’t have those advantages, are we engineering an education system that can really give the bright kid from the poor home the best chance to get on? And I think that is something absolutely to celebrate in Teach First.

But I think perhaps the thing I like about it almost the most – and this may sound odd from someone who runs the government, as it were – but one of the things I like about Teach First, is that this isn’t a rolled-out, top-down government initiative; this is a Big Society initiative. This is schools, universities and an incredible voluntary body/social enterprise getting together, seeing a need, seeing a pool of talent and thinking, let’s get this sorted.

A bunch of people who set up Teach First saw the lack of educational attainment of so many in our country and simply said to themselves, ‘It does not have to be this way.’ They set up Teach First, with government-backing and help they’ve grown it massively. But, above all, it’s an initiative that brings together schools, universities and a voluntary body: a group of people who wanted to change our country for the better.

So you have my 100% commitment and support. I think Teach First is an absolutely brilliant idea. I think its expansion is wholly welcome. I think we can learn lessons for other sectors, in terms of getting bright graduates perhaps to go into social work and to other enterprises as well.

So it’s a huge privilege to have you here. I have a very, very simple message, which is please just do more of what you’re doing: much, much, much more, and as you do so, you’ll have the complete backing of this government. Thank you very much indeed.

David Cameron – 2013 Press Conference with Prime Minister Enrico Letta

davidcameron

Below is the text of the press conference given by David Cameron at Downing Street, London, on 17th July 2013.

Prime Minister David Cameron

Good afternoon everybody. I’m delighted to welcome Enrico on his first official visit to London, but he is course an old friend of this country, and he made a great contribution at the G8 in Northern Ireland last month. Britain’s relationship with Italy is one of the closest that we have. We’re proud to serve alongside Italian forces in Afghanistan, and we’re proud of what we achieved together in Libya.

We’ve also shown what we can do when we joined forces in Brussels to get the EU budget into better shape and to support economic growth. And we have a wealth of business ties, as we’ve seen actually in the last few days with the new agreement to pipe gas from BP’s field in Azerbaijan to homes and business in Italy. But we believe that we can have even more impact still, and that is what we’ve been discussing today. We share a strong ambition to do more to turn Europe’s economy around, and to create the new jobs that we need.

Now Britain and Italy face different contexts – Italy is in the Euro, Britain is not, Britain is not going to be. But sorting out the economy is an urgent priority for both of us. So we’re both making hard-won progress to get control of spending, so we can escape the debt crisis that weighs our economies down.

We joined forces in Brussels last month to bring the same control to EU spending, and we agree on the importance of the steps underway to bring financial stability to the eurozone. But we also know a lot more work is needed to reform the EU and to tackle the crisis of competiveness that holds Europe back in this global economic race.

So we’ve agreed to put real political commitment behind the talks to open Europe’s trade with the wider world, especially the EU – US free trade talks, which we launched at Lough Erne last month, which could add £100 billion to Europe’s economy. We’re making common cause to reduce EU burdens that get in the way of businesses growing and creating jobs. I’ve established here in the UK a business task force to identify what rules need to be scrapped and changed, and we’ve agreed to build on this with good strong proposals to take to the next European Council, the October Council, together.

And we’re going to work together to take the G8 trade, tax and transparency agenda into the G20 and beyond so the rules of the world economy actually deliver jobs and growth, both for our economies and the developing world. Now people may not talk about an Anglo-Italian engine in Europe, but what’s clear is how much we share this reforming vision for a more open and competitive European Union.

And Enrico, I was very struck by what you said in your interview with the BBC yesterday about the need for reform in Europe and more flexible Europe that would benefit all of us. That’s at the heart of my approach to the European Union, and it’s what I think will make Europe a powerful economic force in the world again. And I believe it’s essential to win confidence and consent of people at home for this agenda.

So, a warm welcome, a great friend of Britain, but it’s great to have you here as Prime Minister and very much enjoying working with you on all of these issues. Enrico.

Prime Minister Enrico Letta

Thank you David, thank you for your kind welcome, first of all, and thank you also for the leadership you’ve shown in the Lough Erne G8 meeting. I think there we reached important agreements on the fight against tax evasion, tax avoidance, against the fiscal paradise. So I think it was a very important G8.

We reached important agreement on Syria, we discussed on Libya, and in our meeting now we discuss on both topics, I think sharing the same worries and trying to find the same solutions. I repeated what I said in the meeting we had some days ago with Prime Minister Zeidan about Libya. We want to have a stabilisation there, we want to train Libya military forces, but of course we want to have them very much involved in having the correct deadline of the decision that we took in Lough Erne, which was I think the correct timetable and the correct solutions that we took there.

Of course it’s very important also the Anglo-Italian joint activity inside the European Union. First of all, on the future reforms of the European Union. We share the need for a more flexible Europe, and I think a more flexible Europe would be very important for both our countries and will be very important for the European Union, because we need to have a more flexible Union.

We need to have – and I completely share what David just said – and what David said was for in the last European Council – we have to be completely aware of the fact that we need to close the gap between our citizens and the European institution. It’s a gap not only for British citizens; it is also for Italian citizens, and I think we can jointly work on that. It will be necessary, and I really think that the Italian semester in the second half of next year could help to reach agreements and to have some important result on this topic.

I will say, also, that on the single market, we have to work; we have to work jointly, because we share the idea that the single market is really a pillar of the European Union integration, and is the pillar shared by all the 28, of course. We don’t share the same currency, but we share the main pillar of the European Union, that is, the single market.

And I think we have to work together, and we decided to have a joint Anglo‑Italian work on how to foster single market and how to work, for instance, on some issues linked to the fact that the single market is – is no more working in some important fields.

If I look at the financial service system at the European level, if I – for other important issues, we have national champions. But we don’t have European champions. It’s very difficult to overcome the obstacles at the borders, and, of course, we are not competitive towards Chinese, Americans, and so on. So, it’s a very important achievement and we have to work very hardly on that.

And of course, other important issues on which we have to work together: the TTAP, first of all; the trade with the United States. We want to – we support, of course, the work of the European negotiators there, but we want – we ask them to be fast. To go – to work fast is necessary to have solutions, agreements, as soon as possible, because the positive end of the TTAP negotiation process will be a success for the European Union, but a big achievement for the UK and for Italy, too.

And of course, the other main issue is the December European Council. The December European Council will be dedicated on defence. Italy and the UK, we share the idea that the European Union has to be stronger; stronger, and stronger as a global player. This is why we think and we want to have a joint initiative, for instance, on the argument of defence industry. That is a very important topic for the European competitiveness, but also for Italian competitiveness and I think for the UK competitiveness.

So, I will here send a final, very, very warm message: I am here to say that it is an Italian interest – and I think a European interest – that the UK stay on board of the European process. It would be important because without the UK on board European Union will be worse, will be less liberal, will be less innovative, less pro-free market, less pro-single market, less global player in the world. So, this is why we think that we can work together on many issues and it would be very important for UK, for Italy and for the European Union.

Prime Minister David Cameron

Thank you, Enrico; a very powerful and clear statement. We have some questions, I think.

Question

Thank you very much. Prime Minister Letta, can I pick up what you’ve just said? Do you think reform in Europe means reform for all member states, or has the British Prime Minister discussed with you the possibility of a special deal for Britain in future?

And Prime Minister Cameron, if I may: you hired a man who also is paid for by a tobacco firm. Aren’t voters entitled to a clear rather than a legalistic answer? Have you ever discussed the subject of tobacco packaging with Lynton Crosby?

Prime Minister Enrico Letta

My answer is very clear: of course we need, all, reforms, and we need reform of all the European Union for all the countries. For instance, we – the countries sharing the same currency – we need to have a more integrated euro area.

So, I think it will be possible to have a common very near future in which we can have treaty changes for having a more flexible Europe in the interest of the UK, but also in the interest of the countries like Italy and like the euro area countries; we need more integration because we share the same currency. So, we can join our interests and we can have a very positive and common achievement on that.

Question

Insisting on the fact that – UK to remain in the EU should see something more on growth and competitiveness. So, how do you deal with that at – and at the same time, you ask, as you did, to reduce the EU budget?

And another little question for Prime Minister Cameron. In the UK you are giving asylum to a Kazakh dissident, which is Mr Mukhtar Ablyazov; the wife and the daughter of Mr Ablyazov were recently sent back from Italy to Kazakhstan, and this is at the centre of a political scandal in Italy. So, I was wondering if you had the opportunity to talk about this with Prime Minister Letta or not? Thank you.

Prime Minister Enrico Letta

Political stability of course is one of the main issues for us, and I am sure that political stability is absolutely essential for bringing growth. Without political stability, it is impossible to have growth. This is why in my meetings this morning with the financial, the business community, yesterday at Chatham House, and with the others, too, I repeated that my first commitment is for growth, recovery, economic reforms, but without political stability it will be impossible.

So, my work is to boost political stability and of course it will be my first mission also having the reform of politics. I talked to David, also, how important was the fact that the Senate approved some days ago the first constitutional change of this long-term process that we are proposing to our country to arrive at the end of the process to a huge constitutional change. That would be very important and now, of course, I will ask to political parties to my country to continue – to continue on this path because it’s the correct path. The political stability is absolutely necessary; if not, it will be impossible to get recovery.

Prime Minister David Cameron

Thank you. On the issue that you asked me: it’s an on-going legal process, so I can’t comment in any way about an individual case. As to your question about the UK seeking reform of the European Union, I think that’s a very simple issue really.

As we were discussing over our meeting, 18 members of the 28 share the same currency; the others don’t. The single currency is driving a process of change in the European Union, and we need to reform the European Union and make it flexible enough so that members of the single currency can make that currency work effectively and coordinate effectively. And those of us outside the single currency can find a comfortable position within the European Union. That needs change; that needs reform.

And I think what Enrico said today is very significant, that in seeking that reform – in seeking change – that Britain does actually have a positive response from the German Chancellor, the Italian Prime Minister, the Swedish Prime Minister, the Dutch Prime Minister. I think there is growing understanding. Not all of us would agree about every change that is necessary, but there’s growing understanding that change is needed to make this organisation work better for all its members.

Question

Question for the Italian Prime Minister first. Sir, could I also ask you about your comment about wishing the UK to stay on board the European process; how concerned are you about Mr Cameron’s proposals for a referendum here in the UK on whether Britain should remain in the EU and the possibility that Britain might vote to leave the EU?

Mr Cameron, when the weather here is as hot as it is in Italy, probably, and people are drinking a lot more, you’ll recall saying last year, ‘When beer is cheaper than water, it’s just too easy for people to get drunk on cheap alcohol at home before they even set foot in the pub. So, we are going to introduce a new minimum unit price’; why the U-turn on that today? Was that campaign advice from Mr Crosby?

Prime Minister David Cameron

Let me take that question first. We’re introducing today what is effectively a minimum price, because we’re saying it’s going to be illegal to sell alcohol below the rate of duty plus VAT. So supermarkets or shops deeply discounting alcohol will be made illegal. So, that will, I think, be a positive step forward, and the Home Office have made a number of announcements linked to this which I think will – will help.

But, on the issue of – of minimum unit pricing, it’s actually quite a similar situation to the issue of plain paper packaging on cigarettes. There are good arguments for it. The argument has a lot of merits, which I myself have spoken about, but I think there are these two problems. There’s the degree of legal uncertainty; it’s been introduced in Scotland, but it’s still under legal challenge. And there’s also question marks about its – behind it and how well it can work. And so when we have more evidence about how it can work and we’ve got more certainty about the legal issues, I think it’s an idea, as I said, that has merit – that I’ll be happy to consider again.

So, in both these cases, decisions made very much by me as Prime Minister, consulting my Cabinet colleagues, but in the end the buck stops absolutely here. These are both decisions that I have made. I think they’re the right ones because we need the evidence base, we need the legal certainty and then we can move ahead. But, until then, it makes sense not to move ahead. But the package we’ve got I think on alcohol pricing, as I say – banning the sale below VAT plus duty – I think is a good step forward.

Prime Minister Enrico Letta

And, of course, I don’t want to enter in a – in a domestic debate, but I would say when the voters have the opportunity to say their decision about the future of the European Union, it’s always a good thing for Europe. So, I personally have no fear about the referendum. It would be for sure something of positive for – for Europe and for the UK, because – I repeat, no fear on that.

Question

Good afternoon. I have the same question for the President and of course your [inaudible] Prime Minister Cameron. If you found a common ground about enforcement, strength and competitiveness, and if it’s possible to connect this issue to the fight against unemployment problem that is very strong in Europe too?

Prime Minister Enrico Letta

Yes it is, because I think that single market – deepening the single market is one of the main issues for having a more competitive Europe. Single market means having the opportunity to have a higher and big dimension for our – for the size of our companies.

Single market means to boost digital agenda. Single market means also to tackle with the red – the red tape problems and, of course, we have in Italy a lot of problems from bureaucracy. And it’s one of the main issues, to cut bureaucracy and to cut bureaucratic costs.

So yes, is the main issue to boost competitiveness and to have and to fight against the unemployment, the only way is to have growth. Without growth, it’s very difficult to win the fight against the unemployment.

Prime Minister David Cameron

Well, I think you’ve heard it. I mean I often go to European Council meetings and I say there is very strong support for the agenda of completing the single market in energy, in digital, in services. There’s strong support for these competitiveness issues. And there’s strong support for the EU–US trade agendas and other agendas.

And I sometimes think maybe people think that I’m inventing this mythical support. Well, you can see here today the Italian Prime Minister speaking very clearly about the single market, about competitiveness, about jobs, about growth that we’ll get if we make these important structural reforms.

And that is a joint Anglo-Italian agenda, one that we’ve decided from our different political traditions and different starting points we’re going to work together on. We’re going to draw in other allies across the European Union, and we hope to really push this agenda, including at the October and December European Councils.

So it’s been an excellent meeting today. Very warm welcome to have you here, Enrico, and I look forward to working with you in the months ahead.

Prime Minister Enrico Letta

Thank you.

David Cameron – 2013 Statement on Murder of Soldier at Woolwich

davidcameron

Below is the text of the speech made by the Prime Minister, David Cameron, on 23rd May 2013 following the murder of a soldier in Woolwich, in London, the day before.

What happened yesterday in Woolwich has sickened us all.

On our televisions last night – and in our newspapers this morning – we have all seen images that are deeply shocking.

The people who did this were trying to divide us.

They should know: something like this will only bring us together and make us stronger.

Today our thoughts are with the victim – and with his family.

They are grieving for a loved one…

And we have lost a brave soldier.

COBRA

This morning I have chaired a meeting of COBRA.

And I want to thank the police and security services for the incredible work they do to keep our country safe.

There are police investigations and security service operations underway – so obviously there is a limit on what I can say.

But already a number of things are clear.

First, this country will be absolutely resolute in its stand against violent extremism and terror.

We will never give in to terror – or terrorism – in any of its forms.

Second, this view is shared by every community in our country.

This was not just an attack on Britain – and on our British way of life.

It was also a betrayal of Islam – and of the Muslim communities who are give so much to our country.

There is nothing in Islam that justifies this truly dreadful act.

We will defeat violent extremism by standing together…

…by backing our police and security services…

…and above all by challenging the poisonous narrative of extremism on which this violence feeds.

Britain works with our international partners to make the world safe from terrorism.

Terrorism that has taken more Muslim lives than any other religion.

It is an utter perversion of the truth to pretend anything different.

That is why there is absolutely no justification for these acts…

…and the fault for them lies solely and purely with the sickening individuals who carried out this appalling attack.

Confronting extremism is a job for us all.

And the fact that our communities will unite in doing this was vividly demonstrated…

…by the brave cub pack leader – Ingrid Loyau-Kennett – who confronted one of the attackers on the streets of Woolwich yesterday afternoon.

When told by the attacker that he wanted to start a war in London…

…she replied “You’re going to lose. It’s only you versus many.”

She spoke for us all.

Security services

The Police and Security Services will follow every lead…

…turn over every piece of evidence…

…make every connection…

…and will not rest until we know every single detail of what happened and we’ve brought all of those responsible to justice.

I know from three years as being Prime Minister that the police and intelligence agencies work around the clock to keep us safe from violent extremists.

I watch their work every week. They do an outstanding job.

They show incredible heroism, much of which can not be reported.

They have my staunch support and the support of the whole country.

The point that the two suspects in this horrific attack were known to the Security services has been widely reported.

You would not expect me to comment on this when a criminal investigation is ongoing.

But what I can say is this.

As is the normal practice in these sorts of cases, the Independent Police Complaints Commission will be able to review the actions of the police and the Intelligence and Security Committee will be able to do the same for the wider agencies.

But nothing should be done to get in the way of their absolutely vital work.

After an event like this, it is natural that questions will be asked about what additional steps can be taken to keep us safe.

I will make sure those questions are asked and answered.

But I not in favour of knee-jerk responses.

The Police have responded with heightened security and activity – and that is right.

But one of the best ways of defeating terrorism is to go about our normal lives

And that is what we shall all do.

David Cameron – 2013 Speech at the Somali Conference

davidcameron

Below is the text of the speech made by the Prime Minister, David Cameron, at the Somali Conference held in London on 7th May 2013.

It’s a great pleasure to welcome you all to London and a particular pleasure to welcome President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud as my co-chair today.

Here in this room, just over a year ago, we set out to help the Somali people reclaim their country.

Today, I think we are seeing the beginnings of a new future for Somalia. Extremism is in retreat.

AMISOM together with Somali and Ethiopian forces have driven Al Shabaab out of town after town.

Piracy attacks are down by 80 per cent with no vessel attacked so far this year.

The Government is moving ahead.

Under the guidance of the UN, the AU and IGAD, the transitional government that lasted eight years has ended with a proper, legitimate and federal government in its place.

And Somalia doesn’t just have a new President but also a new Parliament, chosen by representatives of all clans.

The international community has kept the promises that we made last year.

The UN Security Council Resolution extended the mandate of African Union forces beyond Mogadishu and increased their numbers.

Mauritius and the Seychelles have taken pirates for prosecutions and 59 convicted pirates have been transferred to prisons in Somaliland and Puntland.

And we are working together relentlessly to disrupt the travel and the financing of terrorists in the region.

But the transformation in Somalia that we have seen has not happened because 50 countries sat round a table in a room in London last year and somehow decided Somalia’s future.

This change has happened because of the vision of President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud and his team and because of the strength and courage of the Somali people in beginning the long and difficult task of rebuilding their country from the bottom up.

But for all the progress we have seen, huge challenges lie ahead.

Somalia still faces desperate poverty.

Over 200,000 children under-5 are acutely malnourished and just under half of all Somalis live on less than $1 a day.

Despite the gains made against Al-Shabaab the recent tragic and despicable attacks in Mogadishu – including one just last weekend – remind us how much work there is still to do in the fight against terrorism and extremism.

These challenges are not just issues for Somalia.

They matter for Britain too – and to the whole international community.

Why?

Because when young minds are poisoned by radicalism and they go on to export terrorism and extremism the security of the whole world, including people here in Britain, is at stake.

And to anyone who says, this isn’t a priority or we can’t afford to deal with it I would say that is what we’ve done in the past and look where it has got us: terrorism and mass migration.

We made that mistake not just in the Horn of Africa, but also in Afghanistan in the 1990s.

And we must not make that mistake again.

Today, nearly two-thirds of Somalis are under 25.

But most young people don’t join Al-Shabaab because they believe in its perverted version of Islamist ideology.

They do it because they are desperate for a few dollars and a mobile phone.

So helping young Somalis to escape grinding poverty is not just vital for the future of Somalia it’s also the best antidote to the extremism that threatens us all.

Somalis make a great contribution to our country here in the UK and their remittances play a valuable role in Somalia, but many would like to return to rebuild their own country.

We need to make it safe for them to do just that.

Let me turn to how I hope we can do that today.

Supporting a new future for Somalia starts with the humanitarian relief that is so vital in alleviating some of the worst poverty anywhere on earth.

I am pleased that Britain is playing a leading role saving lives and helping Somalis build resilience to future crises.

And I hope others will follow.

But Somalia’s new future depends on more than humanitarian assistance.

It’s about the Somali government providing the security, stability and services that are essential for people to secure jobs, to start new businesses and to provide for their families.

This means supporting what I call the golden thread of development the set of key conditions that are essential for growth all over the world.

These encompass basic security for all – including the protection of women against sexual violence that means a military that is effective and respects human rights it means a police force that people run towards not away from and it means a justice system that is fair, dependable and accessible to all who need it.

And it requires government that is transparent and accountable in its use of resources and inclusive and representative of all parts of society.

President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud is today setting out his plans in each of these areas and I hope that as international community we can get right behind him.

First, I hope that together we can back a long term security plan to end Al-Shabaab’s reign of terror forever.

I am pleased that Britain will commit £10 million to help develop Somalia’s Armed Forces and £14.5 million to double the number of police officers and train judges and lawyers.

Britain will also support the new maritime strategy enabling full radio connection all along the entire coastline for the first time in twenty years.

I hope that others here today will contribute too and that countries in the region will stay the course and work with Somalia while it builds up its own forces.

Second, we need to help Somalia develop a transparent and accountable government with an honest, accurate budget so that it can access the vital finance it needs to deal with its debts and provide services to her people.

Under the previous government Somalia struggled with endemic corruption.

So I very much welcome the commitment to public accountability the President has made and the plan he is setting out at this conference.

Tomorrow will see a major international Trade and Investment Conference – with companies from all over the world looking at Somalia as a place to do business.

But for investment to flow and jobs to be created, people need to know where their resources are going.

The international community must send a strong signal to the International Financial Institutions about the need to follow the World Bank’s lead and help Somalia to deal with its debts and access the vital finance it needs.

And I will seek support for this from my G8 partners when we meet at Lough Erne in Northern Ireland next month.

Third, we must support the new Somali administration as it takes the next steps in delivering a fully federal government in which everyone has a stake and a voice.

That means continuing the process of rebuilding the Somali state in an inclusive way – with all the regions of Somalia around the table.

It means reaching beyond Mogadishu so all parts of the country see a demonstrable benefit from the new government and moving towards the ultimate goal of national elections in 2016, which we discussed this morning.

And while Somalia must focus relentlessly on fighting terrorism it will not bring its people together through military might alone.

So there will need to be an opportunity for those who are willing to reject violence and turn away from Al Shabaab to join the political process.

Mr President, I know you face one of the most difficult tasks of any leader anywhere in the world.

But it is only by bringing the people of your country together and by delivering the security, stability and services essential for jobs and growth that you can deliver the new future for Somalia that is within your grasp.

For our part, let me assure you: we, as your friends and partners, will stand with you as you rebuild your country.

We know that Somalia’s future is shaped by Somalia and with Somalia it’s not something done to Somalia.

Today you are setting out the plans for your country.

Our task is clear: to back you and get behind your plans.

And that is what we will do.

In her book entitled “Keeping Hope Alive” Dr Hawa Abdi – the physician and Nobel Peace Prize nominee wrote about her time in the midst of Somalia’s darkest hours.

She said:

Hope is what remains, as we wait for peace, even as we bleed and we starve it may be that right now, we are living for hope.

Today, after two decades of bloodshed and some of the worst poverty on earth hope is alive in Somalia.

Now it is time to fulfil the hope for the people of Somalia. That is what they have been living and waiting for, and we must not let them down.

David Cameron – 2013 Commons Tribute to Baroness Thatcher

davidcameron

Below is the text of the speech made by the Prime Minister, David Cameron, in the House of Commons on 10th April 2013.

I beg to move,

That this House has considered the matter of tributes to the right hon. Baroness Thatcher of Kesteven LG OM.

In the long history of this Parliament, Margaret Thatcher was our first—and, so far, our only—woman Prime Minister. She won three elections in a row, serving this country for a longer continuous period than any Prime Minister for more than 150 years. She defined, and she overcame, the great challenges of her age, and it is right that Parliament has been recalled to mark our respect. It is also right that next Wednesday Lady Thatcher’s coffin will be draped with the flag that she loved, placed on a gun carriage and taken to St Paul’s cathedral, and members of all three services will line the route. This will be a fitting salute to a great Prime Minister.

Today, we in the House of Commons are here to pay our own tributes to an extraordinary leader and an extraordinary woman. What she achieved—even before her three terms in office—was remarkable. Those of us who grew up when Margaret Thatcher was already in Downing street can sometimes fail to appreciate the thickness of the glass ceiling that she broke through—from a grocer’s shop in Grantham to the highest office in the land. At a time when it was difficult for a woman to become a Member of Parliament, almost inconceivable that one could lead the Conservative party and, by her own reckoning, virtually impossible that a woman could become Prime Minister, she did all three. It is also right to remember that she spent her whole premiership, and indeed much of her life, under direct personal threat from the IRA. She lost two of her closest friends and closest parliamentary colleagues, Airey Neave and Ian Gow, to terrorism. And, of course, she herself was only inches away from death in the Brighton bomb attack of 1984. Yet it was the measure of her leadership that she shook off the dust from that attack and just a few hours later gave an outstanding conference speech reminding us all why democracy must never give in to terror.

Margaret Thatcher was a woman of great contrasts. She could be incredibly formidable in argument yet wonderfully kind in private. In No. 10 Downing street today there are still people who worked with her as Prime Minister, and they talk of her fondly. One assistant tells of how when she got drenched in a downpour on a trip to Cornwall, Margaret Thatcher personally made sure she was looked after and found her a set of dry clothes—of course, she did always prefer dries to wets. On another occasion, one assistant had put in a hand-written note to Mrs Thatcher to say, “Please can you re-sign this minute?” Unfortunately she had left off the hyphen, leaving a note that actually read, “Please can you resign this minute?”—to which the Prime Minister politely replied, “Thank you dear, but I’d rather not.”

Margaret Thatcher was faultlessly kind to her staff and utterly devoted to her family. For more than 50 years, Denis was always at her side, an invaluable confidant and friend. Of her, he said this:

“I have been married to one of the greatest women the world has ever produced. All I could produce—small as it may be—was love and loyalty.”

We know just how important the support of her family and friends was to Margaret, and I know that today everyone in this House will wish to send our most heartfelt condolences to her children, Carol and Mark, to her grandchildren and to her many, many loyal friends. She was always incredibly kind to me, and it was a huge honour to welcome her to Downing street shortly after I became Prime Minister—something that, when I started working for her in 1988, I never dreamed I would do.

As this day of tributes begins, I would like to acknowledge that there are Members in the House today from all parties who profoundly disagreed with Mrs Thatcher but who have come here today willing to pay their respects. Let me say this to those hon. Members: your generosity of spirit does you great credit and speaks more eloquently than any one person can of the strength and spirit of British statesmanship and British democracy.

Margaret Thatcher was a remarkable type of leader. She said very clearly, “I am not a consensus politician, but a conviction politician.” She could sum up those convictions, which were linked profoundly with her upbringing and values, in just a few short phrases: sound money; strong defence; liberty under the rule of law; you should not spend what you have not earned; Governments do not create wealth, but businesses do. The clarity of those convictions was applied with great courage to the problems of the age.

The scale of her achievements is only apparent when we look back to Britain in the 1970s. Successive Governments had failed to deal with what was beginning to be called the British disease: appalling industrial relations, poor productivity and persistently high inflation. Although it seems absurd today, the state had got so big that it owned our airports and airline, the phones in our houses, trucks on our roads, and even a removal company. The air was thick with defeatism. There was a sense that the role of Government was simply to manage decline. Margaret Thatcher rejected this defeatism. She had a clear view about what needed to change. Inflation was to be controlled not by incomes policies, but by monetary and fiscal discipline; industries were to be set free into the private sector; trade unions should be handed back to their members; and people should be able to buy their own council homes. Success in these endeavours was never assured. Her political story was one of a perpetual battle, in the country, in this place and sometimes even in her own Cabinet.

Of course, her career could have taken an entirely different path. In the late 1940s, before she entered politics, the then Margaret Roberts went for a job at ICI. The personnel department rejected her application and afterwards wrote:

“This woman is headstrong, obstinate and dangerously self-opinionated.”

Even her closest friends would agree that she could be all those things, but the point is this: she used that conviction and resolve in the service of her country, and we are all the better for that.

Margaret Thatcher was also a great parliamentarian. She loved and respected this place and was for many years its finest debater. She was utterly fastidious in her preparations. I was a junior party researcher in the 1980s, and the trauma of preparation for Prime Minister’s questions is still seared into my memory. Twice a week it was as if the arms of a giant octopus shook every building in Whitehall for every analysis of every problem and every answer to every question. Her respect for Parliament was instilled in others. Early in her first Government, a junior Minister was seen running through the Lobby. His hair was dishevelled and he was carrying a heavy box and a full tray of papers under his arm. Another Member cried out, “Slow down. Rome wasn’t built in a day.” The Minister replied, “Yes, but Margaret Thatcher wasn’t the foreman on that job.”

As Tony Blair said this week—rightly, in my view—Margaret Thatcher was one of the very few leaders who changed the political landscape not only in their own country, but in the rest of the world. She was no starry-eyed internationalist, but again her approach was rooted in some simple and clear principles: strength abroad begins with strength at home; deterrence, not appeasement; and the importance of national sovereignty, which is why she fought so passionately for Britain’s interests in Europe and always believed that Britain should keep its own currency.

Above all, she believed to the core of her being that Britain stood for something in the world: for democracy, for the rule of law, for right over might. She loathed communism and believed in the invincible power of the human spirit to resist and ultimately defeat tyranny. She never forgot that Warsaw, Prague and Budapest were great European cities, capitals of free nations temporarily trapped behind the iron curtain.

Today, in different corners of the world, millions of people know that they owe their freedom, in part, to Margaret Thatcher—in Kuwait, which she helped free from Saddam’s jackboot; across eastern and central Europe; and, of course, in the Falkland Islands. A week from now, as people gather in London to lay Margaret Thatcher to rest, the sun will be rising over the Falklands, and because of her courage and because of the skill, bravery and sacrifice of our armed forces, it will rise again for freedom.

Much has been said about the battles that Margaret Thatcher fought. She certainly did not shy from the fight and that led to arguments, to conflict and, yes, even to division, but what is remarkable, looking back now, is how many of those arguments are no longer arguments at all. No one wants to return to strikes without a ballot. No one believes that large industrial companies should be owned by the state. The nuclear deterrent, NATO and the special relationship are widely accepted as the cornerstones of our security and defence policies. We argue—sometimes very passionately—in this House about tax, but none of us is arguing for a return to tax rates of 98%. So many of the principles that Lady Thatcher fought for are now part of the accepted political landscape of our country. As Winston

Churchill once put it, there are some politicians who “make the weather”, and Margaret Thatcher was undoubtedly one of them.

In the Members’ Lobby of the House of Commons there are rightly four principal statues: Lloyd George, who gave us the beginnings of the welfare state; Winston Churchill, who gave us victory in war; Clement Attlee, who gave us the NHS; and Margaret Thatcher, who rescued our country from post-war decline. They say that cometh the hour, cometh the man. Well, in 1979 came the hour, and came the lady. She made the political weather. She made history. And let this be her epitaph: she made our country great again. I commend the motion to the House.