Peter Ainsworth – 2008 Speech to Sustainable Development Conference

Below is the text of the speech made by Peter Ainsworth to the Sustainable Development conference on 10th March 2008.

 

Someone said recently that politicians talking about Sustainable Development sound like Soviet rock ‘n’ rollers. He’s right. The lyrics are terrible: Integrated Framework; Social Equity and Cohesion; Global Environmental Governance; Convergence. Catchy stuff, isn’t it? Anyone dropped off yet?

There are two problems with using language like this. One, it kills stone dead any idea of Sustainable Development as a vital opportunity for change. Secondly, terms like Global Environmental Governance make it sound as if we’ve got the problem of sustainable development sorted.

Well, we haven’t. Not by a long chalk.

It’s hard to believe that Margaret Thatcher spoke about the dangers of global warming back in 1988. She said it was quite possible ‘we have unwittingly begun a massive experiment with the system of this planet itself’. And where are we now? After 20 years of conferences and debate – we’re using up natural resources faster than ever, and the pace of climate change is quickening beyond scientists’ worst expectations. Tipping points we thought were generations away are coming closer every year. It’s taken a very long time for us to accept that fossil energy was, in the words of writer Bill McKibben, ‘a one-time gift, that underwrote a one-time binge of growth.’ The experiment has gone horribly wrong.

So today what I want to talk about is how we move from talk to action.

Last September the Quality of Life Group, set up by David Cameron, published its findings and proposed some exciting and far-reaching proposals. It successfully sought answers to the key question of how can we continue to be an economically successful nation and, at the same time, an environmentally and socially healthy one?

We have got to change the current mindset.

Over many years, we’ve got into the habit of defining progress by the single criterion of economic growth. And levels of income and consumption have soared in most developed countries during that time. Yet the people of those same countries report no increase in their sense of happiness or wellbeing. In many cases they report a decline.

That’s an odd kind of progress.

Of course we need economic growth; but not at all costs.

We need a stronger, greener society. One that recognises the importance of wellbeing.

Green spaces are essential to this, and Local Authorities have a vital role to play, through the planning system, in ensuring that planning is not just about buildings, but about the spaces that surround them.

But what’s the point of a green space if mothers are afraid to let their children play there? Or if, every two minutes, a plane screams overhead?

To state the obvious, our environment is where we live. But we have failed to recognise its importance either locally or globally.

The fact is that UK carbon emissions have risen over the last ten years. OK; the government reported a 0.1 percent fall in carbon pollution last year; at that rate it will take us over 500 years to reach our 2050 reduction target. We haven’t got 500 years; we may have as few as five to begin to make a difference to the quality of the world our children will inherit.

We can’t go on as we are.

The good news is that the market is on the case. Increasingly, the business community is recognising the opportunities for ‘green growth’. Large utility companies have brought renewable power into millions of homes. The decision by M&S just last week to charge for plastic bags was a brave and welcome move and shows that responsible business is playing its part.

Responsible businesses can see the opportunities created by increasing consumer awareness of the ethical and environmental values attached to what we buy.

And I don’t think that this is just a middle class phenomenon; nor do I think that it will fade away at the first whiff of an economic downturn.

Consumers are not about to start demanding less. They never have before.

But the bad news is that it will take more than a market-led approach to achieve a truly green economy.

We need the engagement of a far-sighted government, with joined-up policies, and the courage to implement them. And that’s the missing part of the equation at the moment.

The Climate Change Bill, currently in the House of Lords, has the potential to deliver a step change in the way we think about, and plan for, a sustainable society.

But in itself it will not be enough.

The key test will be the extent to which the Bill changes the mindset in Whitehall and Westminster. The Bill will set a framework; but it is a coherent approach to policy making that is needed.

Let me offer one stark example of the present confusion over policy.

Pollution from aviation is the fastest growing source of climate change gasses.

Yet, even as the Climate Change Bill is making its way into legislation, the Government is supporting a massive increase in the capacity of Heathrow airport

It just doesn’t add up.

I don’t say that any of this is easy. But I do say that we need to be consistent.

Where’s the political and economic clear-sightedness? Where’s the joined-up thinking? Where’s the courage to carry through change?

Hitting our emissions targets and building a sustainable society will require a wholesale transformation of our energy and transport infrastructures.

We need an ambitious and determined government.

We have a long way to go in a very short time.

The UK has just signed up to a 15% total renewable energy obligation by 2020. By implication, that means that we will need to obtain around 40% of our electricity from renewable sources. It’s a heck of a challenge, given where we are today. Bottom of the EU league table for renewable energy.

Instead of being a leading innovator in renewable energy, we have the most expensive wind energy in Europe, and – worse still – we are teetering on the edge of building the first new coal-fired power station for thirty years.

The support mechanism for large scale renewable technologies has primarily benefited onshore wind power and landfill gas generation, to the neglect of other technologies farther up the cost curve, many of which could play a major role in our low carbon future, particularly in microgeneration technologies.

This is why we recently announced our Feed in Tariff policy, which will provide a twenty year price guarantee to microgeneration technologies; significantly reducing our carbon emissions and enhancing our energy security in the process.

Feed in Tariffs have worked to great effect in other EU countries, Germany in particular, which can now boast up to 300,000 people working in the renewable industries. Germany has 10 times the installed wind energy capacity of Britain, and 200 times more solar capacity. You will note that Germany is neither 10 times windier nor 200 times sunnier than the UK, yet they are leading the world in these technologies.

It’s about having the right policies.

The EU renewables industry already has a turnover of €20 billion per annum. The Stern review estimated that global climate change markets will be worth US$500 billion per annum by 2050. How much of this $500 billion green economy will be located in the UK?

This is not just about being Green. It’s about being competitive; and it’s about being secure.

So let’s have more of the politics of ‘can do’, and less of the politics of ‘cannot’.

My father used to tell me that there’s no such word as “can’t”. .

Here are some things we can do.

Last week we announced three new climate change policies designed to help decarbonise our economy whilst still allowing it to grow, through utilising Britain’s natural advantages: our intellectual capital, our financial capital, our enterprising spirit, as well as our public willingness to act on climate change:

Green technology Incubators will allow more of our finest research minds to actualise their ideas in to viable businesses. We have some of the finest research universities in the world, yet in Britain today, we are concerned that is much too difficult to turn bright ideas into a working enterprise. We have seen too many great technologies fail to reach the market, getting caught in the trap between a great idea and a viable company.

Secondly, last week we announced our intention to establish the world’s first dedicated trading market for companies focused on green technology. Britain is privileged to have access to some of the world’s finest financial minds and investors in the City of London. The Green Environmental Market is designed to help London become the world’s leading centre for the listing and trading of companies in the field of environmental technology. GEM will build upon the success of AIM (Alternative Investment Market) in attracting green technology companies, but have its own distinct identity and listing criteria.

Thirdly, we proposed introducing new Green Individual Savings Accounts, which will enable the public to save more than they currently are allowed tax free, provided these funds are being only invested in environmentally friendly companies. These Green ISAs – or GISAs – will engage the public in a new way in the issues around climate change – and show them very clearly the economic benefits of green investment. And by providing lucrative new sources of that investment, Green ISAs will create a race to the top by incentivising businesses to adopt environmentally friendly policies.

These are the kind of policies that we believe will allow Britain to deliver on our Climate Change Bill commitments. These are the policies that will deliver dynamic industrial change and create hundreds of thousands of new jobs in the UK economy.

As Jonathon Porritt has acknowledged, there has been some progress.

The Government has already ‘adopted’ our policy of transferring the Air Passenger Duty from individual passengers to the whole flight, so as to incentivise the airlines to fill their planes and thus reduce the carbon pollution per person to as low as possible.

It now appears that the Government may also be adopting out feed in tariff policy. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

It is an extraordinary fact that, in an age of concern over energy security, over two thirds of the energy created in a traditional hydrocarbon power plant is lost, primarily up the chimney, as waste heat. To deal with this, we have announced our intention to introduce a Waste Heat Levy, to incentivise large energy producers and users to make use of their waste heat.

And then there’s our plan for a ‘Carbon Levy’, which will be a tax on carbon intensive energy production, to replace existing ‘Climate Change Levy’ – which has a great brand name, but which is unfortunately just a non-discriminating tax on industry’s use of electricity, regardless of its origins.

That’s what central government should be doing.

We need to put a price on carbon across the economy. We must ensure that the carbon costs of all activities are factored in to the policy making process. The present way in which the Government treats carbon costs as off balance-sheet would do credit to Enron.

And just as important, it should make sure it takes the country with it. Not nearly enough has been done to engage other key groups in the process: local government, the business community, local communities, and individuals. As a result, people feel disempowered and disconnected from what the Government is saying about Green issues, and suggestions of higher taxes on polluting products and activities are greeted with hostility.

That is understandable, if green taxes are simply presented as a punitive add-on to our existing system. What we need is a more fundamental shift in taxation – away from “pay as you earn” and towards “pay as you burn”. Green taxes needn’t – indeed must not – raise the overall tax burden.

But we do need to shift the revenue base away from taxes on work and families, towards taxes on carbon and other pollutants.

The message to consumers must be clear: environmentally responsible choices will save you money.

So if those are some of the national changes we face as we move towards developing a sustainable society – what about the global picture?

You don’t have to be a fully fledged federalist to work out that the EU has a very important role to play, both in encouraging sustainable practices at home and in the wider world.

Harnessing the power of the world’s largest single market to drive up product standards around the world, for example.

Or developing innovative market based mechanisms like the Emissions Trading Scheme:

Of course, it is widely accepted that Phase One of the ETS has been a failure in terms of actually reducing emissions. Too many credits were handed out for free, giving dirty industries a licence to pollute. But this has been a political failure, not a market failure.

The very existence of the ETS has proved that the mechanics of a carbon market can be made to work, and that is a major achievement in its own right

Phase II already looks more promising; the auctioning of up to 10% of allowances has helped to drive the price of carbon to above €20 per tonne.

But it is Phase Three of the ETS, which runs from 2013-2020, and is being negotiated this year, where we must focus our efforts. For EU Emissions Trading Scheme to deliver as a true carbon reduction mechanism, we need to aspire to, argue for, and hopefully achieve 100% auctioning of credits in the Third Phase.

If we are to stand a chance of tackling climate change we have to have reach international agreement on a way forward post-Kyoto. This is the true test.

All the world’s eyes are currently on the USA, waiting for whoever wins the Presidential race to ensure that the mightiest nation on Earth, and its biggest polluter, takes its rightful place at the head on international efforts to curb climate change and adapt to its impacts.

Crucial to the success of the international action the world needs, by the way, will be an effective and fair means of halting deforestation.

And we can start by demanding sustainable biofuels.

It is utter madness to impose quotas for the use of biofuels without ensuring that they can be obtained from sustainable sources. There is a real risk that the British taxpayer will be contributing to the destruction of the rainforest and rising world food prices in the name of the environment.

Twenty years on since Margaret Thatcher warned that we might be experimenting with the planet, we desperately need, above all, to change the mindset of government.

Let’s see an end to the flabby, half-hearted, contradictory and complex approach we have witnessed to date.

This is the ecological, social, economic, security and moral issue of our times.

We must rise to the challenge.

And, in view of the sheer scale of it, it’s just as well that there’s no such word as “can’t.

Bob Ainsworth – 2001 Speech on the Gender Agenda

Below is the text of the speech made by the then Home Office Minister, Bob Ainsworth, on 21st August 2001.

I congratulate all of the people who have worked together to produce the Gender Agenda. It is well crafted, constructive and needed. Its intended audience will ignore the Gender Agenda at its peril. The police service has to get its diversity management right if forces are to make the best use of the available talent and skill. The Gender Agenda makes a major contribution towards the process not only of achieving fair treatment for women officers, but also towards achieving a modern effective police service.

It is helpful that the Gender Agenda is being launched at the same time as the Home Office National Recruitment Campaign begins to put a special emphasis on women and minority ethnic candidates.
The Agenda is fully consistent with the Government’s overarching aims in this area. These include equal representation of women and men in public appointments and appointment on merit, using fair selection procedures.

It is good to see that the Gender Agenda states under its values that it wishes to ensure that all of its arguments are evidence based. This approach must be set to succeed given the wealth of evidence which exists to support it.

The Home Office will shortly be publishing a review of the considerable research which has been undertaken into women officers’ career development and progression. Inevitably, the research doesn’t make comforting reading, and serves to reinforce the need for the Gender Agenda. The service has made some progress, but it still has a long way to go.

Progression is clearly a central issue. Research suggests that the use of interviews to test key skills and abilities has been particularly discriminatory towards women. Because of the low representation of women officers in higher ranks, interview panels will be mainly made up of men – and they will determine the criteria used for selection. The obvious danger is that, without training, these men will simply define themselves in the criteria, thus perpetuating the selection of male officers. This is a classic problem, which forces need to get a grip on.

Research suggests that the vast majority of policewomen have experienced some form of sexual harassment, and this is borne out by the high proportion of employment tribunal cases involving sexual discrimination and harassment. This is obviously unacceptable and worrying. Forces must learn lessons from employment tribunal cases, so that they can manage themselves better. Sexual discrimination is not only harassment by individual officers but also through institutionalised sexism, such as the stereotyping of women officers, and the use of exclusionary language.

The Gender Agenda addresses the problem of double jeopardy suffered by black women officers. ACC Spence’s reference to these officers having to put their effort into surviving let alone seeking progression reflects very badly on the police service. It is awful for the individuals concerned – and they are to be congratulated on their commitment – and it is symptomatic of a culture which must be changed if we are to achieve a modern police service.

Culture and attitudes have to change – but so must the employment framework. A particular issue, rightly highlighted in the Gender Agenda is the availability of part-time working for probationers and ranks above sergeant. I know forces are screaming out for this and I am glad to say that the Home Office has now agreed with the Police Negotiating Board the amendments needed to the Police Regulations to extend part-time working to probationers and the inspector ranks. We should be able to make the necessary regulations in the very near future, and we are pursuing with the PNB a further extension of part-time working to all ranks. We will be issuing detailed guidance to forces on part-time working to go with the changes to the regulations.

Part-time working does not, of course, only benefit women officers. It is an example of how change which has – if I may put it this way – a female impetus, has across-the-board benefits. Increasingly we are seeing that initiatives to bring about equality and proper diversity management for one group has a much wider impact. The Home Office-led national recruitment standards project came out of the Dismantling Barriers initiative to achieve proper minority ethnic representation in the police service – but part of the project is to come up with fitness testing which does not unfairly discriminate, which is of vital relevance to women candidates.

Taking an example from outside of gender and race, the police service is, perhaps as soon as 2004, to lose its exemption from the employment provisions of the Disability Discrimination Act. This will mean that forces must make what are termed under the Act as “reasonable adjustments” to any current arrangements which place disabled people at a substantial disadvantage. To carry out this process, forces will have to work out what objectively is needed to do the job and to apply this in a fair and transparent way. But the benefits of this way of managing, which is after all the proper way to manage, will clearly not be confined to disabled people.

We need to target areas for action in order to manage the process of change, but the overlapping problems and solutions are becoming more and more obvious. And we need to be aware of the dangers in linking modernising change to particular groups. Part-time working was introduced with a focus on its potential to retain women, as an equal opportunities measure, rather than as a means of improving efficiency and effectiveness. This has led some managers to think of part-time working as a problem and an administrative burden, rather than as a way of making better use of the available resources.

Changes to legislation help change along, but much of the change – perhaps the most important change – must be the way in which forces manage themselves. The Gender Agenda emphasises the need for flexible working practices, and this is one of the themes of the Police Reform programme,. which is to deliver best practice in all aspects of human resource management. Some excellent work has already been done by the ACPO Equality Sub-Committee, with support from the Home Office, in the production of guidelines on part-time working and other flexible options.

And the Home Office will shortly be publishing a report which explores in a detailed way flexible working practices in the police service. This will be an important contribution to modernisation and the Police Reform discussion. It will show the benefits of flexible working practices and the barriers to their use; it will identify types of flexible working practices suitable for different employee groups and employee roles; and suggest good practice in the introduction and management of flexible working practices in the service.
The report will show its readers that on flexible working, as elsewhere, the police service has a long way to go:

– the most common type of flexibility currently exercised by forces is part-time work, but even here the police service does not follow practices in other organisations. Outside the service, posts are often identified as suitable for part-time work and staff are recruited to them accordingly. In the police service, common practice is for staff to reduce their hours in a post which they previously occupied full-time;

– managers often perceive part-time workers to be inflexible, not working night shifts or provide short notice cover; but this is directly contradicted by evidence of staff who work until midnight or two o’clock in the morning and who are able to provide cover without being notified in advance.

Training is another critical issue identified by the Gender Agenda. I congratulate the British Association of Women Police for developing the Women’s Leadership training course which has recently been adopted by National Police Training. I acknowledge the personal contribution made to this by ACC Julie Spence. It is also good to see that the Strategic Command Course, traditionally run as a long residential course, has been made more flexible to be more family friendly. The course will now take the form of short modules lasting no longer than four weeks each. In the run up to the course, and between modules, candidates can carry out police based research locally. This will ensure that candidates do not have to work far away from home and are better placed to meet their personal and domestic commitments.

The Gender Agenda calls on the Home Office amongst others to promote the aims of the Agenda and a dialogue around the issues. We will of course take full account of it in formulating our police gender policies. The commonality of our interest is very strong, and it is important for the British Association of Women Police and the Home Office to work together. Officials have already been closely in touch with you in the run up to this conference, and this needs to continue for our mutual benefit. So far as promoting dialogue is concerned, this will happen. Flexible working is key, and this is an important theme within the human resource management work strand of the Police Reform programme, which is being taken forward as a priority. For the dialogue to be meaningful, there must be information – and as I have indicated, the Home Office is providing this to the police service in a substantial way.
So you will gather from all of this that I am able to give my serious and enthusiastic support to the Gender Agenda. I predict that when we look back in just a few years time we will see that it has been a major landmark in the history of the police service.

Adam Afriyie – 2012 Speech on Conservatism

Below is the text of the speech made by Adam Afriyie at the Renewal of Conservatism Conference held in Windsor on 22nd September 2012.

afriyie

Good morning and welcome to Windsor.

This conference is a significant moment for both Windsor and the Conservative Party.

It also promises to be a significant moment for centre-right thinking and the future of our country.

Windsor is a wonderful town and this is a great constituency.

It has lakes and great parks and tourist attractions and some magnificent historic buildings.

Windsor is steeped in political and military history.

Windsor castle has been a birth place and home for our Royal Family for centuries.

It was in Windsor that the conference preceding the signing of the Magna Carta was held.

Many battles have been fought here.

It is the perfect place to fight the political battles to come.
Windsor has been an agent of change in the past and I hope it will be instrumental in the renewal of Conservatism for the future

I’d like to thank the organisers, speakers and participants.

With the support of the Windsor Conservative Association, Richard Hyslop and Phil Sage have worked tirelessly to pull together today’s event.

The leader of the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead, David Burbage, is a legend. He has improved services across the borough, while reducing the council tax to the lowest of any council outside London. He is here today.

The Taxpayers’ Alliance, the Freedom Association and the Centre for Social Justice are well-know right-thinkers. You are welcome.
And I want to thank those MPs, MEPs, Councillors and GLA members for remaining loyal to Conservative values. They are again making a contribution today.

With Toby Young, James Delingpole, Tim Montgomery, Jill Kirby, Daniel Hannan, Syed Kemall and so many others, the quality of participants will speak for itself.

There will be keynote speeches, panel discussions and breakout sessions.

I hope that you will not only contribute to the revitalisation of the Conservative vision in these sessions, but will also stay for the supper with Roger Scrutton if you can.

Of course, at an event like this, one cannot avoid mentioning the Coalition.

We are in difficult political territory.

The last Government left our country in a hell of a mess.
In 2010 the Conservative-led Coalition was confronted with big government, massive debts, rising taxes and a growing budget deficit.

Our national control and self-determination were being eroded by European jurisdiction over our borders and our criminal justice system.

Great Britain had become humbled, indebted and subservient place.
Thankfully, the Coalition has being doing good work in the area of Welfare Reform, debt reduction and improving school standards.
But despite some good progress the tensions and constraints of coalition are taking their toll.

There is headway to be made on so many fronts.

Our job today is to identify the policies that will underpin a government that truly is on the side of people who work hard and aspire to better themselves by merit and endeavour.

We need policies that will help to secure a solid Conservative majority.

But those policies must also influence the current Government.
Now, if I were Europe Minister, I’d want to know how to regain control of our borders and secure our criminal justice system.
Businesses are the engine of the economy.

If I were Chancellor, I’d be concerned about removing the age-old obstacles to growth.

I’d want to release our risk-takers and wealth creators to generate the jobs and economic growth the country so desperately needs
If I were Party Chairman, I’d be concerned about the support base of my Party. I’d want to ensure that the policies adopted had been endorsed by the Party. And I’d want my Party to be motivated and ready to campaign, wholeheartedly, at the next election.

And if I were Prime Minister, I’d want to be in tune with my Party and I’d want the right ideas for the country on Europe, taxation and the economy.

But above all I’d want to have a clear Conservative majority.
So our challenge today is to forge those policies that will secure the freedom and prosperity of the British people, and assert the ideas for an election-winning strategy.

With the participants here today, I am confident we can rise to the challenge.

So in closing let me say this.

Whatever your views on the current state of the nation and our party, please remember:

Governments and Coalitions, they come and they go, but our Conservative principles endure.

– A commitment to individual liberty, self-determination and equality of opportunity,

– A belief in lower taxes as a moral and economic good and,

– The defence of sovereignty through an EU relationship based on economic cooperation, not political subservience.

It is these Conservative principles that must inform the next manifesto, in the meantime, hold the Coalition to account in the meantime.

And I suspect these values will endure long after Nick Clegg has departed public life.

You are very welcome here in Windsor.

Please enjoy the rest of today’s conference.

And do come again.

Thank you.

 

Afriyie, Adam – 2009 Speech on Empowering Citizens

Below is the text of the speech made by Adam Afriyie on 22nd October 2009.

afriyie

I come to politics from a business background in technology and innovation. And, to me, the phrase ‘Government innovation’ sounds like a paradox.

After twelve years of big spending, and even bigger promises, it’s easy to understand why people are just a tad cynical. Labour came to power with high hopes for what government could achieve.

At the height of the dot.com boom they wanted to ‘modernise’ the public sector with IT solutions. So they created an e-unit, an e-envoy and even an e-minister. In fact, they slapped an ‘e’ in front of anything that moved. They set up a task force, appointed a tsar, and of course set a target: 100% of government services will be online by 2005.

Thankfully, the Guardian realised they had gone too far when civil servants were required to tell people to ‘apply online’ for permission to be buried at sea. So none of us were surprised when the target was abandoned in 2004.

Labour did have some worthy objectives, such as joined-up government and personalised public services. But their approach has been deeply flawed.

While the pace of technological change was breath-taking, the response from government was not.

Internet access empowers people. It improves productivity and opens the door to self-improvement. But while the internet was empowering individuals to take control over their lives Labour was attempting to maintain the old bureaucratic machinery.

Ministers were mesmerised by the transformative potential of technology but failed to integrate it seamlessly into everyday use.
In many ways, theirs has been a government populated by ‘digital immigrants’. The results have been disastrous.

Cost overruns. Procurement failures. Security breaches. These are the hallmarks of a failed IT policy. And the spectre of the NHS IT system sends a shudder down the spine of even the most-hardy minister.

As consumers increasingly take control of their personal information, we have watched with horror as the database state has extended its reach. As businesses swiftly moved services into the new online world of cloud computing, government continued to develop cumbersome in-house systems.

My background is in IT. It’s been painful to watch these disasters unfold.

So today I’m going to talk about the principles that underpin an emerging Conservative approach to IT policy. The principles are clear and I think they represent a more flexible and coherent approach that embraces the realities of the modern world.

There are three main principles.

Big is not always better

First, big is not always better. Large scale IT projects increase the risk of failure. Big projects narrow the number of companies able to supply government, reduce competition and fail to deliver value for money.

The Government spends about £16 billion on IT annually. Future budgets are tight and we really cannot afford to repeat the mistakes of the past.

One option we are considering is the use of multiple proof-of-concept pilot projects. If several suppliers are asked to come up with working solutions, they can then be piloted, and the most successful can be scaled up and rolled out nationally. The use of multiple early-stage pilot projects could reduce reliance on a handful of big vendors and increase the proportion of IT budgets spent with innovative young companies.

Openness

The scale of projects could be significantly reduced by adopting our second principle: openness.

By using standard data formats, like XML, government can open up the procurement process to the widest possible base of suppliers. With inter-operability, large projects can be split into manageable, modular chunks. The outcome is a more flexible procurement process where it is easier to change suppliers and resolve problems as they emerge. Francis Maude and his Implementation Unit are developing these ideas right now.

We need more small systems that talk to one another, and fewer monolithic mega-projects of no return.

Open procurement has a further implication: a level playing field for open source software – software that can offer significant cost reductions.

Open source is not a panacea. But it would be senseless to continue to buy proprietary systems by default. One study suggests that open procurement might save £600 million every year. That’s a saving worth making in the current climate.

But if our IT policy is to be genuinely open it must look to the market for innovative solutions. It must be free to discover new and novel solutions. And it must dictate the desired outcomes, but not the technological inputs.

Perhaps the biggest emerging trend is the shift towards software and infrastructure as a service. Cloud computing is transforming our world. And Conservatives recognise that there are massive benefits and savings to be gained, including more flexibility for users, better value for the taxpayer, and even improved energy efficiency, as remote data centres fire-up only when needed.

Take our approach to IT in the National Health Service. As an alternative to building an expensive in-house system we are exploring ways for patients to take control of their own health records. With easier access they might examine records more carefully, they might choose where to store them, and they might demand that GPs present them to the hospital of their choice. It’s an approach that could accelerate the take-up of electronic records through public demand – and all at little or no cost to the public purse.

Empowering citizens

Of course, openness is not just about how government interacts with suppliers. It’s also about the relationship between government and the citizen.

So our third principle is empowering citizens.

Trust in politics has reached historic lows, and the expenses scandal has magnified the suspicions that arise when information is hidden.
So if you visit the Conservative website you’ll see our expenses published openly online in Google Docs, updated in real time. That’s because David Cameron recognised early on that technology would enable unparalleled transparency and help to restore confidence in public life.

I believe that information is power. And thanks to the internet it is now easier than ever to put that power in the public domain.

In a digital economy, access to information fuels innovation. It drives up standards because people are aware of what’s going on around them and have the power to choose on the basis of that information.
That idea underlies the crime mapping pioneered by Boris Johnson in London. Crime maps give people real-time information on where crime hotspots are located and how effectively the local police are dealing with them.

Crime mapping sits alongside George Osborne’s commitment to publish online every item of government expenditure above £25,000. With soaring levels of public debt, people have the right to know how their money is being spent.

We want to empower individuals to hold government to account and incentivise government to meet public demands.

But we won’t stop there, because there is a mountain of data hidden offline in Whitehall vaults. If it were online and accessible it could be highly valuable to families, businesses and social enterprises.
Think about census data, overseas aid data, environmental and air pollution data. This information could be mashed up and re-used in innovative ways.

Most of it is public information paid for by the taxpayer. If it is not classified or personal, it should be freely available for re-use. That’s why David Cameron has promised a ‘right to data’ – so that you can tell government which data sets are useful to you. And in my view this is the unfinished business of the Freedom of Information Act.
But we’re not waiting for the election. We are already taking action. I am extremely proud that my local council is leading the way. In Windsor we have started to publish online everything that costs over £500.

MyConservatives

The next election is likely to be something of a technological breakthrough, and it’s about time. The Conservatives’ New Media team are onto it with the launch of myConservatives.com – a social network inspired by Obama but built in Britain. It is a UK first. And I think it will make a bit of a splash during the election.

With online tools enabling users to build campaigns and tele-canvass from home, MyConservatives turns the very nature of political campaigning upside-down. It moves on from the top-down, centrally controlled politics of the past, to the politics of the future – built by individuals from the ground up.

Rather than politicians taking charge of the internet, it is about individuals, through the internet, taking charge of politics. That’s what Conservatives mean when we talk about the post-bureaucratic age.

And if we can do it in the election campaign, if we can do it with the publication of expenses, if we can do it for local authorities, then I’m quite sure we can do it in central government too.

So I am optimistic. I am optimistic that a Conservative government will finally deliver the benefits of IT for taxpayers, exceeding what was promised 12 years ago, with more responsive public services, better-connected government and unprecedented value for money.
In future, ‘Government’ and ‘innovation’ need not be mutually exclusive.

We will move beyond the top-down and state-centric assumptions of Whitehall. Because for too long the transformative potential of IT has been imprisoned within an old-fashioned bureaucratic model. But with open procurement, with information to empower individuals, and with hundreds of ‘little platoons’ organising at the grass roots, we can have an open, accountable and innovative politics.
And that’s what we call progressive.

Adam Afriyie – 2009 Speech on the Innovation Gap

Below is the text of the speech made by the then Shadow Science and Innovation Minister, Adam Afriyie, on 23rd November 2009.

afriyie

I come to politics from a background building hi-tech businesses.

And it seems to me our nation’s in trouble.

We’re stuck in the longest recession since records began. Millions of people have lost their jobs, their homes and their businesses. Britain has generated the biggest budget deficit in the G8. And government debt stands at £86,000 for every household in Britain.

Just one year’s interest on this debt will lose us £43 billion. To put it in perspective, that’s about 10 times the entire science budget.

We cannot escape the reality. Whether Labour or Conservative, the next government will be confronted with an empty financial cupboard.

The challenge will be to rebalance our lopsided economy. We must break the over-reliance on housing and government debt and become less wholly dependent on financial services.

Science holds the key.

Sir James Dyson taskforce

I‘m optimistic for the future of British science. Not since the days of Sputnik and Kennedy’s New Frontier has science been more central to a nation’s future.

For me science is not a luxury to be indulged – it is a necessity to be embraced. We can be more than a nation of bankers and borrowers.

We’ve got an impressive scientific tradition, especially here in Cambridge.

British scientists are some of the best in the world. We punch above our weight for citations and Nobel prizes. But something’s gone badly wrong.

We’ve tumbled down the world league tables, to become less competitive. There’s a disconnect between our excellent research on the one hand, and the creation of the high-tech products and jobs we so desperately need on the other.

That’s the innovation gap. And that’s the gap we aim to close.
So I’m delighted that James Dyson is heading a Conservative taskforce. We’re looking to transform Britain into Europe’s leading hi-tech exporter. We’re exploring options for a Future Fund to boost investment into those start-ups.

And we’ve identified three priorities. First, to encourage our brightest young minds into science and engineering. Second, to maintain the excellence of our research base through these difficult economic times. And third, to close the gap between discovery and development – a gap that’s persisted under successive governments.

Continuity after the election

But, of course, before the election, you’ll want to know what a Conservative government means for science.

We mustn’t fight political battles over science. Science should be the least ideological area in government. It’s difficult enough to raise the level of public debate about science, without unseemly squabbles among politicians.

Science and innovation policy has been matured over the decades. William Waldegrave and Michael Heseltine pursued recognisable themes in the 1990s: commercialising research, building business-university links, and maximising the power of public procurement.
The current machinery of science policy looks broadly as it did in 1997. The dual-funding system continues – shared between HEFCE and the Research Councils. And, curiously, the science portfolio has returned to the old DTI, where John Major first put it.

The Technology Strategy Board is a new development. We welcome its arrival, and its functions will remain important.

Stability is what’s needed right now. So let me offer reassurance. I am not planning a major reworking of either the dual funding system or the apparatus of science policy.

After the election

But while there are points of consensus for science, I certainly envisage some changes for innovation.

Tomorrow marks the 150th anniversary of Darwin’s Origin of Species. For me innovation is an evolutionary impulse. It can’t be mandated regionally or forced through centrally. Innovation arises from a basic biological drive: we adapt to survive.

So our approach will be different. We are going to free people, businesses and universities to innovate. Picking winners, second-guessing scientists, expanding unaccountable quangos – that’s simply not our way.

But let’s cut to the chase. Let’s talk about spending.

If fortunate enough to serve as science minister, I’m going to fight tooth and nail for science. But it’s reckless to make undeliverable promises. Spending constraint will apply for any incoming party.

Gordon Brown has made a-song-and-a-dance over the ring-fenced science budget.

Vince Cable says there should be no ring-fencing at all.

To set out a more balanced approach: we respect the principle of the ring-fence. It operated in the last Conservative government. It’s sensible for Parliament to approve Research Council funding separately from the overall budget.

But I’m concerned that some of Labour’s ring-fencing rhetoric might lull the science community into a false sense of security.
The current ring-fence expires in 2011. The Government has allocated no-money-whatsoever to science beyond that point. The point is this: the Government can’t ring-fence money it hasn’t allocated.

Public investment in science

The value of public investment in science is not in question. Basic research is often too risky for commercial investors alone, and some research, such as ‘big’ physics like the Hadron Collider, can only be sustained at national levels.

David Cameron singled out Research Councils as the right kind of public body. They offer accountability and value-for-money. They also work at arm’s length from politicians to create excellent science over the long-term.

Long-term is the key phrase. The rewards of research can be unpredictable in the short-term. That’s why the public sector has a role to play.

We will never overlook the value of fundamental research. Twenty years ago, a famous chemist said: ‘It is mainly by unlocking nature’s most basic secrets, whether it be about the structure of matter or the nature of life itself, that we have been able to build the modern world.’

She was the only scientist to become Prime Minister. So, while I cannot promise spending increases with an economy on its knees, I can reveal this: a Conservative government will not turn the science budget into a short-term industrial subsidy.

Taxpayers’ money must of course contribute to public goals. But when science meets policy, there is the ever-present risk of politicisation.

How we identify our priorities is the essential question.
Research Councils must support excellent research without undue political interference. Yet the spectre of Lord Haldane haunts the corridors of power. There is confusion about the meaning and relevance of the Haldane Principle today.

The Lords and Commons science committees have been bold in this area. But Ministers have failed to give an adequate response.
The Haldane Principle has largely safeguarded British science from the ideological battles we’ve seen elsewhere.

Today, science is being driven as a tool of ‘industrial activism’. So it is more important than ever that we do not blur the distinction between appropriate strategic guidance and inappropriate political interference.

But, sadly, the Haldane Principle has never been written down. Whether it’s an inquiry, commission or consultation, we need to resolve the uncertainty.

We need a clear view going forward. For confidence and stability research spending priorities must be open. And if the present administration refuses to provide clarity, then we will seek to do so.

Scientific advice in government

Research council independence is essential. So too is the integrity of government scientific advice.

Many of our biggest challenges are scientific challenges: generating energy, securing food supplies, improving the environment, rebalancing the economy, caring for an ageing population. So Government and Parliament need sound scientific advice.
In many ways, Britain has been a world-leader. The last Conservative government setup the Foresight programme to scan the technological horizons. The current government has appointed chief scientific advisers for many departments.

Conservatives recognise and respect the importance of scientific advice. We also recognise the value of the scientific approach to policy-making – so much so that it is now compulsory for all incoming Conservative MPs to have science induction training.

There have been too many slip-ups and unnecessary controversies in the past: BSE, GM, MMR. Building systematically on acquired knowledge, is what unites all walks of a civilised society. For the sake of our economy and our society we must be clear that evidence matters.

And this leads me to the Professor Nutt fiasco. In principle, it’s right that a minister has the power to dismiss an advisor on any grounds they see fit. In political terms, some of the Professor’s statements may well have seemed ill-judged.

But let’s be clear: the science is not in question, only the handling of the situation by the Home Secretary.

Independent scientists are not subject to government whipping – and rightly so. Scientific advisers now need reassurance that they can continue to challenge perceived wisdoms within a clear set of rules.

Unfortunately, the existing rules fail to adequately define the relationship between ministers and their independent scientific advisers.

The Government has now been forced to consult on new guidelines.
A number of scientists have signed a Statement of Principles setting out how they think independent scientific advice should operate. I believe those principles offer a strong basis for a new framework. I support their efforts. And I urge the minister to develop these new guidelines as quickly as possible, to ensure they can be respected by independent advisers and ministers alike.

The next generation of scientists and engineers

Before finishing tonight, I want to say a few words about our plans to encourage the next generation of scientists and engineers.
Michael Gove has set out proposals for a new generation of Technical Schools, and plans to restore exam confidence with international benchmarking.

We’re going to revive careers advice with innovative online information, so that students can see the benefits of a science career.

And I want to identify the best ways to attract people into science.
Perhaps what’s missing is longitudinal research into existing interventions to discover what’s most effective. But, who knows? I don’t want to overlook the simple solutions.

The number of places on forensic science degrees has more than doubled since 2002.

Call it the CSI effect, or perhaps the Silence Witness has spoken. Maybe a sexy TV drama would attract more young people to science than all our STEM initiatives put together.

Concluding remarks

So in conclusion, with an incoming Conservative government there will be no ideological revolution in science policy. Whatever the rhetoric, all parties will be forced to face the realities of the debt crisis and budget pressure.

My priority is to deliver the best possible environment for British science and innovation.

Science has a great future with Conservatives.

We are going to lean towards science, engineering and high-technology. We need to rebalance the economy.

And I think we’re ready to make that change.

Thank you.

Adam Afriyie – 2005 Maiden Speech

Below is the text of the maiden speech made by Adam Afriyie in the House of Commons on 23rd May 2005.

afriyie

As an ardent campaigner for decision making to remain in this House, I am delighted to address the House today. I must thank the retiring Member for Windsor for his continuous hard work over many years. It is thanks to him that the doors of the Edward VII hospital remain open; it is thanks to him that the doors of the Helena Day ward remain open. I must also thank him for his good work with the Westminster Foundation for Democracy and its continued work in Belarus and Tibet.

I must also thank the members of the Windsor Conservative association, who selected and supported me more than 19 months ago. It really means something to me that they have stuck with me the whole way through the hard work of getting elected. Of course, I must thank the residents of Windsor for the warm welcome that I received on 35,000 doorsteps. I recognise that many of them will have broken with former allegiances to deliver the result that delivers me here today.

I would like to tell you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, about the wonderful constituency that I represent. It has leafy hills and dales; it has great parks and lakes. It is beautiful and attractive, as are the people. I recall one particular doorstep on which I was campaigning early one morning. I knocked on the door and a beautiful young lady answered. She seemed stunned to see me, and I was certainly stunned, but also delighted, to see her — thinking that I was her boyfriend, she had come to the door completely naked. I have lost my train of thought now.

We have some wonderful schools in the constituency. One near Slough, with which many Members will be familiar, is particularly notable. We also have wonderful historic buildings. With the award given to the Fat Duck a few weeks ago it is now accepted the world over that we have the finest dining in the entire world. We benefit from internationally renowned race courses, and we have a strong military presence, with the Household Cavalry and the Blues and Royals. We have one of the finest, grandest and most popular tourist attractions in the whole world — a symbol of our national historic heritage. I refer of course to Legoland. We also have one or two notable residents, of whom I am sure we are all aware.

We face some challenges, too. The character of our area, our community and our neighbourhoods is being ruined by insensitive high-density development. That is placing pressure on our roads, creating queues at our GPs’ surgeries and causing stress to parents who cannot find a place for their children in the local schools. We have also had the blight of flooding in recent years. In areas such as Horton, Wraysbury, Old Windsor and Datchet, the risks caused by the inadequate measures on the Jubilee river still exist. In other parts of the constituency, the challenge and threat of increasing aircraft noise remain. We have a noisy neighbour in Heathrow, which not only provides employment but brings stresses and strains with the continued noise and pollution that is created. We have some challenges, and we must rise to meet them.

Like many Members, I come from a fairly ordinary background. When one comes from an ordinary background, one is determined to make something of oneself. I worked hard at school, I made it to grammar school and then on to university. I have worked hard in business for many years. I am delighted that today, the organisations that I helped to start provide incomes and livelihoods for about 300 people and their families. I will continue to work hard here in Parliament, to take action on the issues that matter to us all.

When I was being lovingly dragged up in south-east London, a thought struck me. My friends, my family and the people with whom I have worked over the years all seem to be happier when they are making decisions for themselves — when they have control of their own lives. One of the biggest causes of stress in Britain today is a feeling that one’s own life is out of one’s control. With my hon. Friends, I am determined that people should regain a sense of control over their lives. We have had a lot of talk today about civil liberties, and I am determined that we shall continue that push towards civil liberties, towards a country free from unnecessary interference from state and government.

Despite the sleep deprivation during the campaign and for the first couple of weeks here in Parliament, I am thrilled, delighted, excited and elated to be here, but I am also conscious of the onerous responsibility that we bear as Members. The House has my commitment that I will take action; I will not only campaign for the residents of Windsor but take action on the things that matter to us all. In the years to come, I want all of us to feel a sense of control over our lives, a sense of self-confidence in who we are and, as far as is possible in a civilised society, a sense of freedom to enjoy our lives in the way that we choose. Above all, I want all British citizens to rediscover a sense of pride in being British. I say without hesitation or hindrance that I am proud to be British. I am proud to play a small role in this debate, and I am proud that under your watchful eye, Mr. Deputy Speaker, I will play a small role in the future of our great nation.

Lord Adonis – 2009 Speech to Labour Party Conference

Below is the text of the speech made by Lord Adonis, the then Secretary of State for Transport, to the 2009 Labour Party conference.

I took a journey for a week in the spring travelling the railways of Britain. It’s taken me two thousand miles to get here. I met some wonderful people, including the transport staff who keep Britain moving day by day. I enjoyed it so much, I’ve still got the bug. Faced yesterday with a train from London to Brighton I had this irresistible urge to go via Inverness.

More exciting journeys lie ahead of us in all fields of transport and I want to talk to you about them today.

Good transport changes lives. It strengthens communities. It spreads prosperity around the whole country. It’s what we in Labour are all about. But we face a challenge: how to reconcile personal mobility for all, one of the foundations of social justice, with tackling climate change in our generation. I believe we can meet this challenge. We do not have to choose between being green and being free. But only if we create a green transport system for the future.

What does green transport mean?

It means a plan for fundamental change, not incremental change, in the way we travel. No lazy cop-out that society and government should be neutral between different forms of transport, but going for green as a matter of principle.

Take cycling, the greenest form of travel. For too long in this country we have hesitated to promote cycling as a mainstream form of transport.

Yet consider. More than half of all journeys – including journeys to work, to school and to college – are of five miles or less. If we made it easier and safer, more people would cycle. Just talk to the people already on their bikes. They love it. They sail past the traffic, they enjoy the exercise, they get a sense of freedom.

And the cost in petrol?

Nothing.

In much of continental Europe, cycling is already mainstream. In Copenhagen, where I was discussing green transport last week, a staggering 40 per cent of journeys are now by bike.

It is the same in towns and cities across Germany, Switzerland, Sweden, Norway and Holland. The railway station I recently visited in the small Dutch city of Leiden has supervised parking for 6,000 bikes – 6,000, four times the number in all London’s rail terminals combined. No surprise – a third of all Dutch rail passengers use bikes to get to and from their final destination. In Britain the figure is not a third, but three per cent.

Now, our continental neighbours don’t cycle more because somehow it’s in their genes, but because it’s safe and supported. It needs to be here too. Our rail stations, our workplaces, our schools, colleges and universities, our streets, all need to be cycle friendly.

That’s why, as a step forward, I am today announcing a £14 million programme to create cycling hubs in ten of our major stations including Leeds, Liverpool, Sheffield and London St Pancras, Victoria and Waterloo. These stations will have thousands of extra supervised bike parking places, as well as cheap cycle repairs and safe cycle routes to and from the stations.

If we want a cycling revolution in this country, everyone should be able to join in. For us, “on your bike” is a transport option, not an insult to the unemployed. These new cycling hubs should be a model not only for other stations, but also for major employers nationwide – starting with government itself.

Joining up different ways of travelling is fundamental to green transport. Not just bikes and trains but better bus interchanges, more car parking at stations, more parkway stations, encouraging people to leave the car at home or to use it for only part of their journey.

Thanks to Labour, millions of older and disabled people are now benefiting from free bus travel. And we should shout this from the rooftops at the General Election. To encourage more bus use we are promoting smartcard ticketing, so that – as with Oystercard in London – passengers can get on and off buses, and change between buses and trains, quickly and easily.

Green transport also means a plan for going green within each mode of transport.

For rail it means more electrification. Gordon Brown and I have set out the biggest electrification programme in a generation – Liverpool to Manchester; London to Bristol, Oxford, Cardiff and Swansea. Wales will no longer be the only European nation besides Albania without a single mile of electrified railway.

For cars, vans and buses, going green means tough carbon limits on new vehicles, and big incentives for the manufacture and take-up of electric and hybrid models to get them off the drawing board and onto the drive.

Aviation must also go much greener. Ed Miliband and I have set a target – the first of its kind in the world – for UK aviation emissions to be lower in 2050 than they are today. Let me stress: all airport expansion, including Heathrow, must be compatible with this target. Greater fuel efficiency and new technologies will help us get there. So too will the international cap on aviation emissions which we are negotiating hard for in the run-up to Copenhagen.

The next essential for green transport is sustained investment in public transport.

Yes, of course these are tough economic times.

But – under this Labour government there will be no repeat of the stop-go, start then cancel, approach to transport which the Tories adopted in past recessions.

Take Crossrail. Proposed in the 1970s, planned in the 1980s, cancelled in the 1990s by the Tories.

Surprise, surprise, the Underground is full because it does not have the vital extra capacity needed in central London. Thanks to Ken Livingstone Crossrail is back and the diggers are digging. I pledge today that we will press ahead with Crossrail and with rail electrification. The Tories would betray the future. We won’t.
Another critical component of green transport is high speed rail.
My support for high-speed rail as an alternative to short haul flights was described recently as ‘insane’ – insane by no less an authority than Michael O’Leary of Ryanair.

I was very grateful for that health advice, so much so I wanted to approach Mr O’Leary with other medical issues of mine, but alas his charges for additional baggage were just too high, so I’m sticking with the NHS.

But let me say something about sanity and insanity in transport policy.

Insanity would be planning yet more motorways and short-haul flights between our major cities where high-speed rail can meet demand.

Sanity is to plan for the 21st century with 21st century technology – fast, clean and green. High speed rail wins on all counts. For large passenger flows between major cities, it is far more energy efficient than cars and planes. It gives huge extra capacity. It slashes journey times and it takes people to the centre of cities connecting directly into other public transport. That’s why I think that for Britain, high speed rail is a no brainer.

Most of Europe and Asia thinks so too. In Europe alone there are now 3,600 miles of high speed rail, plus an extra 7,300 miles in construction or planning.

The trouble is that only 68 of those miles are in Britain, and even those 68 don’t connect any of our major cities, much as I love Folkestone.

By contrast Paris-Marseille, Frankfurt-Hannover, Madrid-Barcelona, Rome-Milan – all are now linked by 200 mile an hour high speed trains – yes, displacing thousands of short-haul flights in the process. But London, Birmingham, Manchester, Leeds, Newcastle, Glasgow, Edinburgh – all are still dependent on slow, saturated, Victorian railways.

Two thirds of journeys from Scotland to London are therefore by plane.

This must change. That’s why over recent months my team has been working so hard to prepare a high speed rail plan for Britain.
It won’t be easy.

A north-south high speed rail line is a twenty year project, with big planning and financial implications.

But I’ve always been an optimist not a fatalist, and Labour’s whole approach to this great project will be one of ‘can do’ not ‘can’t do’. I see this as the union railway, uniting England and Scotland, north and south, richer and poorer parts of our country, sharing wealth and opportunity, pioneering a fundamentally better Britain.

This high speed vision is possible if we make green transport our common cause. True to Labour values. True to our vision of a United Kingdom and a united, prosperous and fair society. The choice is clear. Join Labour on this great journey. Let’s not go down the Tory dead-end street.

Irene Adams – 1990 Maiden Speech in the House of Commons

Below is the text of the maiden speech made in the House of Commons by Irene Adams on 12th December 1990.

Thank you for calling me so early to make my maiden speech, Mr. Speaker. I understand that the tradition of the House is for a new hon. Member to pay tribute to his or her predecessor. In my case, my predecessor was not only my predecessor but my husband. For that reason, I find it particularly difficult to pay that tribute. I have been in the position of many wives of Members of Parliament—and husbands, for that matter—who know the kind of commitment that is needed to be a Member of the House. I should like to pay tribute to everyone who has been a Member of the House and to their wives and husbands for the long-suffering hours with which they, too, have had to put up.

In my constituency, which was my husband’s constituency, over the past 11 years we have watched as our industrial base has continually deteriorated. It was a once-proud industrial base. We manufactured cotton, built ships, and carried out light engineering. All those industries have suffered grossly over the past 11 years. The cotton industry is now just a skeleton of its former self. The once-proud mills stand empty and are falling apart. The people who worked in them lie idle in their homes.

In my constituency there are pockets in which there is 40 per cent. male unemployment. I listen to Conservative Members telling us that industry in their towns is improving. It certainly is not improving in our town. The latest casualty is Howdens in Renfrew. It was a good industry. It had no reason to go downhill, but, because of the policies that the Government have pursued, it has done so. Once more we shall watch the town of Renfrew go into a downward spiral that not only loses jobs at Howdens but loses related jobs—jobs in shops and in other industries that supported Howdens, again adding to the recession of the economy.

For a long time Scottish people have protested. My own grandfather took part in the hunger marches south. That road south has become a boulevard of broken dreams. When they come south, young people, middle-aged people and elderly people are forced to languish on the streets of this city. We do not need to walk half a mile from here to see cardboard cities and young people who are genuinely looking for work and roofs over their heads. What do they find? They find a shop doorway in the Strand with no chance of finding employment and no chance of finding a home.

Before coming to the House last week, I visited Miss Peggy Herbison, who was a Member of the House in 1945. I am sure that many hon. Members will remember her. Peggy told me that she made her maiden speech on housing. I read her maiden speech. She spoke after the war when we would expect housing to have been in a bad condition. What do I find 45 years later? We are in no better position. In this city alone, 9,000 children will spend Christmas morning in bed-and-breakfast accommodation. Things are not much better, despite the efforts of Peggy and many people like her. Still, working people have no roofs over their heads. All they want is a decent home and a decent chance to earn a living. That is not too much to ask.

The Government have presided over a situation that was equalled only by the second world war. Today we still do not have enough housing. It is reckoned that we need 100,000 low-cost rented properties each year even to start to meet the problem. We have no hope of that. If the Government do not intend to change course—from what I heard today, that certainly does not seem to be the case —they should do the honourable thing and move over and let someone who can change course do so.

Gerry Adams – 2000 Speech to Sinn Fein Conference

Below is the text of the speech made by Gerry Adams to the Sinn Fein conference on 27th February 2000.

 

gerryadams

The British government made a huge mistake and miscalculation on 11 February when it endorsed the unionist view that the issue of decommissioning was a precondition on the continuation of the institutions. Whatever reason is put forward to justify the British government’s decision, this is the reality. It is also totally contrary to the Good Friday Agreement and is the biggest single mistake made by the British Labour Party since it took power in May 1997.

It is totally contrary to the Good Friday Agreement because the Agreement took the wise course, the conflict resolution course, which saw the resolution of the arms issue as an objective of a process but not as a blockage on progress on all of the other matters.

However, the ink was barely dry on the Agreement when the British Prime Minister stepped outside of this framework and produced his side letter for the Ulster Unionist Party. From then on, this issue has been treated as an issue of tactical political management.

It ceased to be an objective of a peace process. Instead, from that point it became a precondition dogging the process. This reduced the Good Friday Agreement to something less than the people voted for. It also subverted the electoral mandates of genuinely committed pro-agreement parties. The value of the vote and the implementation process is now subject to unionist terms. From this point, the current vacuum was a crisis waiting to happen.

That’s the flaw which the British government introduced into the Good Friday Agreement.

That is the virus that has infected the process.

This is what has subverted all of Sinn Féin’s efforts to resolve this issue.

All of these efforts were based on our view that the purpose of any peace process must be for opponents or enemies to see each other’s point of view and find a compromise, an agreement, an accord which accommodates the difficulties that exist.

On a number of occasions we went far beyond our obligations under the terms of the Agreement as we tried to resolve this arms issue. Personally, I have lost count of the number of efforts we made to break through the barriers erected by the unionist leadership.

Last November we acted in good faith during the Mitchell Review negotiations to find a resolution to this weapons issue. Of course, the unionists have never dealt with this issue of arms in anything other than a tactical way. No mention of the one hundred and forty thousand legal weapons in their hands.

Sinn Féin isn’t prepared to sit back and allow the democratic rights and entitlements of nationalists living in the North to be filtered through a unionist prism. Equality is equality is equality.

If the task of creating a level playing field is causing so much difficulty within unionism that is in no small way a measure of how unbalanced the situation is or how they perceive it to be.

There is a huge challenge for the unionist section of our people to come to terms with all of that and a huge challenge for Irish republicans to engage with them constructively on an ongoing basis to win more progressive liberal and pluralist elements, more modern elements of unionism, over to this broader view. I am pleased to say that even in these troubled times that dialogue is continuing.

And while we are committed to this dialogue and to listening as well as talking to unionists, I am very very conscious that we can hardly blame David Trimble for behaving as he does when the British government endorses his position. We can hardly blame David Trimble for threatening a British government when, from his point of view, his tactics pay off. So in all of this the London government cannot escape its responsibilities.

Peter Mandelson said that they had to suspend the institutions because Mr Trimble would resign unless they did so. There is now no question of David Trimble resigning. In the USA last week Mr. Mandelson said that the institutions could be restored as easily as they were suspended. Why then are the institutions not back in place? Could it be that if Peter Mandelson restored the institutions then David Trimble would once again resurrect his resignation letter? Or could it be that the British government supports the unionist terms for decommissioning? One thing is certain – the way that Peter Mandelson has dealt with the crisis issue has not only prevented an opportunity to get a resolution but it has also made it more difficult to get one in the future.

In November last we persuaded the IRA to enter into discussions with the de Chastelain Commission in return for the unionists going in to the institutions. One outcome of that was that de Chastelain issued a positive report in which he said that “the Commission believes that this commitment [from the IRA], on the basis described above, holds out the real prospect of an agreement which would enable it to fulfil the substance of its mandate”.

Of course, given the rejection of this position by unionism and the British government, and given their undermining of the de Chastelain Commission, this may never be tested.

So, with hindsight I now think that our efforts to resolve this issue in the Mitchell Review was a mistake by us because we relied on others to keep to their commitments.

It was a good faith engagement by Sinn Féin but it was turned on its head by new deadlines and another side agreement with the British government to collapse the institutions if republicans didn’t jump to David Trimble’s demands. In my view David Trimble did not go into the institutions on the basis which emerged – the Mitchell Review. Instead he went forward on a different promise and that was on the basis of a commitment from the British government that he would have Peter Mandelson’s full support – seeking the suspension of the institutions.

There is no need for me today to deal in detail with what happened on February 11th. That has been spelt out in detail in a series of statements and public engagements and it is clear that our position has been vindicated and our accusation of media management, of manipulation and lies has been borne out by the facts.

Let me make it absolutely clear that this Sinn Féin leadership will support efforts to resolve the arms issue.

We remain wedded to our objective of taking all of the guns out of Irish politics. However, I do not accept any special responsibility on our party to do this above and beyond the responsibilities of every other party in this process. This is only possible response to the rejection and misrepresentation of our efforts, and to a UUP leadership which was never serious about a resolution, other than on its own terms which amounts, despite protestations to the contrary, to nothing more or less than a surrender by the IRA.

And if a British government, with all of its military firepower and muscle could not get an IRA surrender in 30 years of war then unionist leaders or British ministers cannot expect a Sinn Féin leadership to do it for them.

So where is the peace process to from here.

Is everything to be thrown away?

This is a question that all the parties to the Good Friday Agreement and especially the British government must ponder on. This could possibly be the most defining point in this process thus far.

There is a vacuum.

There is the possibility that all of the good work of recent years could be frittered away. This has to be prevented. The priority at this critical point in the peace process must be to get the institutions back in place as soon as possible. This is the sole responsibility of the British government and Peter Mandelson should do it now.

The two governments must also co-operate to operate all outstanding aspects of the Good Friday Agreement. The reality is that we are still awaiting delivery of the:-

– Equality Agenda

– Justice Matters

– Human Rights

– Cultural Rights

– A new Policing Service

– And Demilitarisation.

But if the British government continues to behave in an illegal way, if it continue to maintain its unilateral suspension of the institutions then the Irish government has to move to protect its position. This should see the Irish government introducing legislation in Leinster House to amend the British-Irish Agreement Act 1999, and the related British-Irish Agreement (Amendment) Act in order to remedy the defective legal basis of the southern leg of the all-Ireland institutions. I feel very strongly that what Peter Mandelson did on February 11th was to give British support for the closure of one phase of this process. Of course, it may not be if Mr. Mandelson moves to restore the institutions. However, I see no sign of that.

And of course, the decision by a British Secretary of State to unilaterally tear down the institutions and set aside the Good Friday Agreement exposes the absence of real democratic rights and real self-determination.

Remember how we were told by leading partitionists and others that the Good Friday Agreement, endorsed in referendum north and south, is the exercise of self-determination by the Irish people.

Sinn Féin took a more measured and accurate view. We said it wasnt. It was clear now who was right given the actions of a British politician two weeks ago? Self-determination for the people of this island has yet to be achieved. And this party and others of similar mind must set our sights on achieving that objective.

So, we have to move forward on the basis that a new phase is now opening up and how it is managed will be critical to the success of all our hopes.

Sinn Féin has been and will remain in contact with the British government

Sinn Féin has been and will remain in contact with the Irish government.

Sinn Féin has been and will remain in contact with all of the pro-Agreement parties and others.

We have to be about creating the space in which people can take ownership of the peace process.

On Friday I appealed to people to again take to the streets in support of peace. I repeat that appeal today.

At different times in recent years there have been widespread public manifestations of support for the peace process and for the Good Friday Agreement. People throughout this island, as well as voting for the Good Friday Agreement, marched, lobbied, wrote letters, put up posters, held forums, placed ads in the newspapers and generally used their imagination to support the process for change.

I am appealing today for a renewed commitment from all these people.

I am appealing to all of those who voted Yes in the referendum to stand up for their democratic rights and entitlements.

I am appealing to civic society, to the churches, to ordinary people the length and breadth of this island to take the initiative and to win back the potential for change that is required to underpin the search for a lasting peace.

I am calling especially on republicans and nationalists to return to the streets in the weeks and months ahead to mobilise, to organise, to build the political strength needed to counter balance the unionist veto.

We must also take a hard look at the job of building Sinn Féin political strength. It is worth recalling that it was the comparative weakness of the nationalist position against the strength of unionism that ensured unionist success in pulling down the institutions.

We should also recall that during the negotiations leading to the Good Friday Agreement that if Sinn Féin had been a stronger player the progressive elements of that Agreement would have been much stronger.

If the Good Friday Agreement is lost because the British government caved into unionists demands one thing is certain. At some point in the future a new agreement will be negotiated. We have to ensure that Sinn Féin is there in a better position to negotiate a better agreement than the one which is there now in tatters.

So we have to be about building our political strength.

It means reorganising; it means updating our analysis; preparing policy positions, based on our republicanism, that are relevant and practical and effective; it means preparing for political challenges; it means recruiting; it means reaching out into those parts of this island which have not heard the real republican message.

It means identifying our weaknesses and removing them and targeting our strengths and building upon them.

Gerry Adams – 1994 Speech in the United States

Below is the text of the speech made by Gerry Adams on 24th March 1994.

gerryadams

Seventy years on from partition, it is universally accepted that partition has hampered and damaged the economic development of the island. This affects not only trade, industry and agriculture but, by association, all parts of the economy – including employment, health, education and social welfare systems – leaving them marginalised and critically underfunded. The people of Ireland are the victims of this process condemned to lower living standards. Up to £3 billion of funding is lost in so-called security costs every year. The Dublin government spend more than twice as much money every year on border ‘security’ as they do on industrial development.

This fact has been recognised by the business community in Ireland. Plans for an island economy have been endorsed by the Dublin government and the Northern Ireland Office. The plans include import substitution, export partnerships, combined economic planning and infrastructural development.

The belief underpinning this plan is that these moves towards a form of economic unity would boost monetary wealth. A 1991 confederation of Irish Industry report that up to 75,000 extra jobs could be created has been used by a range of politicians to endorse the plans. However optimistic the jobs target seems, it is clear that there is an ability for the current political structures to create an economic environment where efficiencies would create wealth and extra employment.

However, there are two fundamental problems with this process. One is the lack of democracy and democratic control of the economy. The second is the inefficiencies in present structures and policies.

Creating an island economy without creating democratic structures will leave the economy in the hands of a minority of financial institutions and business interests. So far it is Irish Business and Employers Confederation and the Confederation of British Industry that have put in place the structures for this island economy. Democratic control of any economic initiative is a prerequisite.

No better example of why this should be can be found in examining the performance of the Industrial Development Board (Six Counties) and Industrial Development Authority (26 Counties). A 1993 report found that “the manufacturing industry in Northern Ireland has not performed well since partition”. Northern Ireland Economic Research and Social Council stated in 1993 that IDB grants had “acted as a substitute for low productivity”.

In 1993, the IDB admitted that only half the jobs it assisted between April 1987 and March 1989 were still in existence after 12 months. The British Auditor General found that the IDB spent “millions of pounds funding unnecessary projects”. Last year in the 26 Counties, for every new job created by the IDA, another was lost. For this, the IDA spent £154 million. The IDA has spent £3 billion since 1969.

This inefficiency is only one example of the failure of NIO and Dublin government economic policies. The potential benefits of the “island economy” strategy in its present form will be reduced if the failed industrial and economic policies being implemented now in both economies are merely recreated on a larger scale.

There is no doubt that wealth is being created in the 26 and Six County economies. Creating a united economy could increase the potential for wealth creation, but without an economic democracy it will create less wealth and concentrate it in fewer hands.

Recognising that a national economy must reflect everyone’s interests democratically, must be part of the process of building a new Ireland. Irish unity and independence will form the only basis for creating an economic democracy.

Expectations Raised

Since the IRA cessation last August there has been an unprecedented turn around in public perception and expectations of economic development in the partitioned Irish economy.

This has happened for two reasons:

(1) There is a genuine belief that a lasting peace in Ireland will have a twofold effect on the whole Irish economy. Firstly, both the Dublin and London governments will earn a peace dividend as the financial costs of the conflict dissipate. Secondly, there is a public belief that lasting peace will create a positive economic environment, increased domestic economic growth and increased inward investment.

(2) It now also seems possible that after seventy years of the negative and damaging effects of partition a democratic island economy is a real possibility and that this will also yield a range of positive results for the whole economy.

The Role of the US Government and Investment

Sinn Féin welcomes the decision by the US President, Bill Clinton, to host the White House Conference for Trade and Investment and the other economic initiatives proposed in the 1st November, White House statement.

Sinn Féin recognises that US inward investment has for over 30 years been a significant contributor to employment and economic development in Ireland. The role US investment plays throughout the Irish economy is a crucial one that needs to be examined now more than ever as the prospects of lasting peace offers tangible new opportunities for mutually beneficial inward investment.

The November 1 statement said that the aim of the conference is to “show US companies that sustained peace is dramatically improving business opportunities on the island of Ireland and particularly in Northern Ireland and the border counties. American business should be in on the ground floor of these new opportunities.”

Sinn Féin believes that the chief benefits of any new investment should be in increased employment and enhanced local economic development, particularly in those areas and communities most affected by the conflict.

BACKGROUND

The history of structured political discrimination in the Six Counties is well documented and a matter of public record.

The responsibility for discrimination against Catholics lay for decades with the unionist controlled government at Stormont which functioned under the Authority of the London government. A system of political, economic and cultural apartheid was institutionalised under this system.

The British government, as the sovereign power, had the ultimate responsibility for allowing this situation to exist.

Since taking direct political control in 1972 the British government has passed two anti-discrimination laws. They have had little impact on the disparity in employment between Catholics and Protestants.

Indeed an internal British government report in September 1992 for the Department of Economic Development concluded that the unemployment differential between Catholics and Protestants is not likely to change over the next ten years.

Catholics are still over two times more likely to be unemployed. (23% of Catholic males are unemployed as against 9% Protestant males.)

PARITY OF ESTEEM

It is for all of these reasons that we welcome US concern and interest. President Clinton has brought a particular positive focus to this issue.

The appointment of Senator George Mitchell, the conference for trade and investment and the other initiatives are all evidence of the administrations pro-active interest.

Sinn Féin believes that progressive opinion in Ireland clearly supports the need to address a number of areas in order to enhance the potential for inward investment and to build on the hopes for a lasting peace.

These are:

–  Parity of esteem between the two major political allegiances in Ireland and the communities who hold these allegiances.

– Equality of treatment.

– Equality of opportunity.

INWARD INVESTMENT

Investment should complement local economic activity, and not be used as has happened sometimes in the past as a substitute for domestic economic activity. The net result of badly planned investment in the past has resulted in the inward investor and the host local communities both losing out.

Sinn Féin proposes that for inward investment to be at its most effective in enhancing the benefits of a lasting peace, three sets of criteria need to be met.

One, is that new investments meet a set of minimum labour and environmental standards with positive efforts made to site new plants and operations in the most deprived areas of Ireland and to hire workers from the most deprived communities.

Two, new investment must not prop up the existing status quo of discrimination against Catholics in the Six Counties. It must seek to reverse the disproportionate level of discrimination suffered by Catholics. The British government must be encouraged to introduce new and effective anti-discrimination laws.

Three, is that a new economic strategy for areas most affected by the conflict should be developed in parallel with new investment programmes. It is in the interest of both the investor and the host communities that every effort is made to maximise the benefit of new investment. This could come in the form of aiding the development of support clusters around an inward investing company, or planning strategies to harness the increased employment created by new investments to stimulate other commercial developments in the local economy.

Developing links between local communities and the inward investor is a necessary prerequisite of any new investment initiatives.