Robert Goodwill – 2015 Speech on Air Travel and Alcohol


Below is the text of the speech made by Robert Goodwill, the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Transport, at the Hilton Metropole Hotel on the Edgware Road in London on 23 November 2015.


Thank you.

I would like to start by paying tribute to the response of the UK aviation industry to the tragic loss of 224 lives aboard the Russian Metrojet flight 9268.

In difficult circumstances, over 16,000 British travellers and their belongings were safely repatriated.

The government’s first priority is the safety and security of the British people, and so as in Sharm el-Sheikh we will act wherever we need to.

Last week, the Prime Minister announced a doubling of our spending on global aviation security.

We know that our airports will maintain their vigilance in the face of the continuing terrorist threat.

Airports Commission

Last time I spoke at an AOA gathering, it was the 30 of June; the eve of the publication of the final report of the Airports Commission.

In my speech that day I maintained a disciplined and principled silence over the contents of the report, despite pleas from some in the audience that I lift the veil of secrecy just a little.

But the truth was that there wasn’t much chance of a give-away, because I didn’t know what was in the report either.

And for the avoidance of doubt all I will say on the matter today (23 November 2015) is that the Airports Commission report is being very carefully considered by the government.

Disruptive behaviour on planes

So I won’t be drawn on the taboo of airport capacity this afternoon.

I will, however, address an altogether different taboo.

Not as high-profile.

But I believe a matter on which there is need for an open, public debate.

And that is the problem of passengers who become disruptive on flights, particularly after drinking alcohol.

Several airlines have recently written to government expressing their growing concern about the problem.

I am pleased to say that AOA and BATA have already shown leadership in their desire to bring the industry together to find new solutions.

But the growing concern in the industry — particularly among airlines — is understandable

Over the summer, one airline reported over 360 incidents.

The knock-on effects of flight disruption affect the whole industry, airports included.

And an aeroplane is a unique environment.

A confined space, filled with families and other travellers, and while in the air out of the reach of traditional law enforcement.

There’s little chance that a drunken passenger could pose a threat to the plane itself, but some have tried.

Last week, a passenger on a British Airways flight was reported as having attempted to force open an exit door while mid-Atlantic.

She was restrained and arrested on landing, but the incident caused distress to her fellow passengers.

And disruptive and even violent behaviour on planes doesn’t just put the air crew and passengers at risk.

It also puts the individual themselves at risk.

In the UK, arrested flyers are subject to UK legal processes and enjoy legal protections.

But flyers into some other countries could be subject to very different laws and far lower levels of legal protection.

Clearly, no one party — airlines, airports or government — can solve this problem alone.

Yet within our own sphere of responsibility we can each act to reduce the risks.

Airlines need to look at their approach to serving alcohol on board.

Jet2 have begun a campaign they call Onboard Together, which seeks to educate passengers and empower their crew.

The government must make sure that enforcement is effective.

And we know that for a proportion of passengers, their holiday begins in the airport bar, whether they arrive at the airport at 7 in the evening or 7 in the morning.

For some passengers, a delayed flight means that the first drink of the holiday quickly becomes the first 3, 4 or 5 drinks.

And in at least one airport today, passengers are able to pull their own pints at their table.

We don’t want to stop passengers enjoying themselves or prevent people from flying.

But we do want people to put a break on before things get out of hand.

Already, some airports are taking new steps.

Glasgow and Manchester Airports are trialling the sale of duty free alcohol in sealed bags.

And a couple of weeks ago I visited Edinburgh airport, where clear warnings about the risks of drunkenness are displayed on the airport’s bars and tables.

Edinburgh has formed a partnership with the airport police who now maintain a visual presence around bar areas and give potential troublemakers a gentle word of caution.

The police can be a great and willing help where a risk of drunkenness has been identified, and can work with airports to locate officers near boarding gates for flights that have proven problematic in the past, or for flights that have been delayed.

Clearly, different airports will prefer different approaches.

Often, working with airlines can be key.

Perhaps to identify the most trouble-prone flights.

Or even to identify passengers with a history of poor behaviour, as long as concerns about privacy and proportionality are addressed.

So I hope we can agree on the need to keep talking about this — to each other, and to passengers.

Our aim should be to ensure that flying is a safe and enjoyable experience for all travellers, and that flying doesn’t end badly for the careless few.

Success of airports

But I won’t end on a note of challenge.

Because the truth is that the aviation industry is overwhelmingly succeeding in delivering a brilliant service.

The proof is that there are now more people using your airports than ever before in history.

In the 12 month period to March 2015, passenger numbers at UK airports reached record levels.

And the signs are that the numbers are still growing.

You are also making a huge contribution to Britain’s record employment levels.

Around a quarter of a million people are directly employed in the aviation and aerospace industries, and many more are employed indirectly.

The future is looking bright, too, as we are seeing massive investment in airports across the country.

Bristol’s western terminal extension is under way and scheduled for completion by the summer.

Over the next 5 years, Luton will invest £100 million in its terminals.

Edinburgh will invest £125 million in its terminal, departure lounge, check-in and immigration facilities.

Heathrow is improving Terminals 3 and 4, and both Gatwick and Manchester Airport are each investing £1 billion in their terminals.


So I am grateful to everyone who works to keep our airports running and improving.

Through your enterprise, your commitment to customers, and the connections you give us to the rest of the world, you make an unparalleled contribution to Britain’s national prosperity.

You have this government’s support, and we look forward to working with you in the months ahead.

Thank you.

George Osborne – 2015 Spending Review and Autumn Statement


Below is the text of the speech made by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, to the House of Commons on 25 November 2015.

Mr Speaker, this Spending Review delivers on the commitment we made to the British people that we would put security first.

To protect our economic security, by taking the difficult decisions to live within our means and bring down our debt.

To protect our national security, by defending our country’s interests abroad and keeping our citizens safe at home.

Economic and national security provide the foundations for everything we want to support. Opportunity for all.

The aspirations of families.

The strong country we want to build.

Five years ago, when I presented our first Spending Review, our economy was in crisis and there was no money left.

We were borrowing one pound in every four we spent. Our job then was to rescue Britain.

Today, as we present this Spending Review, our job is to rebuild Britain. Build our finances. Build our defences. Build our society.

So that Britain becomes the most prosperous and secure of all the major nations of the world.

And so we leave to the next generation a stronger country than the one we inherited. That is what the government was elected to do – and today we set out the plan to deliver on that commitment.

Mr Speaker, we have committed to running a surplus.

Today, I can confirm that the four year public spending plans that I set out are forecast to deliver that surplus, so we don’t borrow forever and are ready for whatever storms lie ahead.

We promised to bring our debts down.

Today, the forecast I present shows that after the longest period of rising debt in our modern history – this year our debt will fall and keep falling in every year that follows. We promised to move Britain from being a high welfare, low wage economy to a lower welfare, higher wage economy.

Today, I can tell the House that the £12 billion of welfare savings we committed to at the election, will be delivered in full – and delivered in a way that helps families as we make the transition to our new National Living Wage. We promised that we would strengthen our national defences, take the fight to our nation’s enemies and project our country’s influence abroad.

Today, this Spending Review delivers the resources to ensure that Britain, unique in the world, will meet its twin obligations to spend 0.7% of its income on development and 2% on the defence of the realm.

But this Spending Review not only ensures the economic and national security of our country, it builds on it.

It sets out far-reaching changes to what the state does and how it does it; it reforms our public services so we truly extend opportunity to all;

Whether it’s the way we educate our children;

train our workforce;

rehabilitate our prisoners;

provide homes for our families;

deliver care for our elderly and sick;

or the way we hand back power to local communities.

This is a big Spending Review by a government that does big things. It’s a long-term economic plan for our country’s future.

Mr Speaker, nothing is possible without the foundations of a strong economy.

So let me turn to the new forecasts provided by the independent Office for Budget Responsibility, and let me thank Robert Chote and his team for their work.

Since the summer Budget new economic data has been published which confirm this: Since 2010, no economy in the G7 has grown faster than Britain.

We’ve grown almost three times faster than Japan, twice as fast as France, faster than Germany and at the same rate as the United States.

And that growth has not been fuelled by an irresponsible banking boom, like in the last decade.

Business investment has grown more than twice as fast as consumption; exports have grown faster than imports and the North has grown faster than the South.

For we’re determined that this will be an economic recovery for all, felt in all parts of our nation. That is already happening.

In which areas of the country are we seeing the strongest jobs growth? Not just in our capital city. The Midlands is creating jobs three times faster than London and the South East.

In the past year we have seen more people in work in the Northern Powerhouse than ever before.

And where do we have the highest employment rate of any part of our country? In the South West.

Our long term economic plan is working.

But the OBR reminds us today of the huge challenges we still face at home and abroad. Our debts are too high and our deficit remains.

Productivity is growing, but we still lag behind most of our competitors.

And I can tell the House that in today’s forecast, the expectations for world growth and world trade have been revised down again.

The weakness of the Eurozone remains a persistent problem; there are rising concerns about debt in emerging economies.

These are yet more reasons why we are determined to take the necessary steps to protect our economic security.

That brings me to the forecasts for our own GDP.

Even with the weaker global picture, our economy this year is predicted to grow by 2.4%, growth is then revised up from the Budget forecast in the next two years, to 2.4% in 2016 and 2.5% in 2017.

It then starts to return to its long term trend, with growth of 2.4% in 2018 and 2.3% in 2019 and 2020.

And that growth, Mr Speaker, is more balanced than in the past; whole economy investment is set to grow faster in Britain than in any other major advanced economy – this year, the next year, and the year after that.

Mr Speaker, when I presented my first Spending Review in 2010 and set this country on the path of living within its means, our opponents claimed that growth would be choked off, a million jobs would be lost and that inequality would rise.

Every single one of those predictions have proved to be completely wrong.

So too did the claim that Britain had to choose between sound public finances and great public services.

It’s a false choice; if you are bold with your reforms you can have both.

That’s why, while we’ve been reducing government spending, crime has fallen, a million more children are being educated in good and outstanding schools, and public satisfaction with our local government services has risen.

That is the exact opposite of what our critics predicted.

And yet now, the same people are making similar claims about this Spending Review, as we seek to move Britain out of deficit into surplus.

And they are completely wrong again.

The OBR has seen our public expenditure plans and analysed their effect on our economy. Their forecast today is that the economy will grow robustly every year, living standards will rise every year, and more than a million extra jobs will be created over the next five years.

That’s because sound public finances are not the enemy of sustained growth – they are its precondition.

Our economic plan puts the security of working people first, so we’re prepared for the inevitable storms that lie ahead.

That’s why our Charter for Budget Responsibility commits us to reducing the debt to GDP ratio in each and every year of this parliament, reaching a surplus in the year 2019-20 – and keeping that surplus in normal times.

I can confirm that the OBR has today certified that the economic plan we present delivers on our commitment.

Mr Speaker, that brings me to the forecasts for debt and deficit.

As usual, the OBR has had access to both published and unpublished data, and has made its own assessment of our public finances.

Since the Summer Budget, housing associations in England have been reclassified by our independent Office for National Statistics and their borrowing and debts been brought onto the public balance sheet – and that change will be backdated to 2008.

This is a statistical change and therefore the OBR has re-calculated its previous Budget forecast to include housing associations, so we can compare like with like.

On that new measure, debt was forecast in July to be 83.6% of national income this year. Now, today, in this Autumn Statement, they forecast debt this year to be lower at 82.5%. It then falls every year, down to 81.7% next year, down to 79.9% in 2017-18, then down again to 77.3% and then 74.3%, reaching 71.3% in 2020-21.

In every single year, the national debt as a share of national income is lower than when I presented the Budget four months ago.

This improvement in the nation’s finances is due to two things.

First, the OBR expects tax receipts to be stronger. A sign that our economy is healthier than thought.

Second, debt interest payments are expected to be lower – reflecting the further fall in the rates we pay to our creditors.

Combine the effects of better tax receipts and lower debt interest, and overall the OBR calculate it means a £27 billion improvement in our public finances over the forecast period, compared to where we were at the Budget.

Mr Speaker, this improvement in the nation’s finances allows me to do the following.

First, we will borrow £8 billion less than we forecast – making faster progress towards eliminating the deficit and paying down our debt. Fixing the roof when the sun is shining.

Second, we will spend £12 billion more on capital investments – making faster progress to building the infrastructure our country needs.

And third, the improved public finances allow us to reach the same goal of a surplus while cutting less in the early years. We can smooth the path to the same destination.

And that means we can help on tax credits.

I’ve been asked to help in the transition as Britain moves to the higher wage, lower welfare, lower tax society the country wants to see.

I’ve had representations that these changes to tax credits should be phased in. I’ve listened to the concerns. I hear and understand them.

And because I’ve been able to announce today an improvement in the public finances, the simplest thing to do is not to phase these changes in, but to avoid them altogether.

Tax credits are being phased out anyway as we introduce universal credit.

What that means is that the tax credit taper rate and thresholds remain unchanged.

The disregard will be £2,500. I propose no further changes to the universal credit taper, or to the work allowances beyond those that passed through Parliament last week.

The minimum income floor in Universal Credit will rise with the National Living Wage I set a lower welfare cap at the Budget.

The House should know that helping with the transition obviously means that we will not be within that lower welfare cap in the first years.

But the House should also know that thanks to our welfare reforms, we meet the cap in the later part of the Parliament.

Indeed, on the figures published today, we will still achieve the £12bn per year of welfare savings we promised.

That’s because of the permanent savings we have already made and further long term reforms we announce today.

The rate of Housing Benefit in the social sector will be capped at the relevant local housing allowance – in other words, the same rate paid to those in the private rented sector who receive the same benefit.

This will apply to new tenancies only.

We’ll also stop paying housing benefit and pension credit payments to people who’ve left the country for more than a month.

The welfare system should be fair to those who need it and fair to those who pay for it too. So improved public finances, and our continued commitment to reform, mean that we continue to be on target for a surplus.

The House will want to know the level of that surplus. So let me give the OBR forecasts for the deficit and for borrowing.

In 2010, the deficit we inherited was estimated to be 11.1% of national income.

This year it is set to be almost a third of that, 3.9%.

Next year it falls to less than a quarter of what we inherited, 2.5%.

Then the deficit is down again to 1.2% in 2017-18, down to just 0.2% the year after that, before moving into a surplus of 0.5% of national income in 2019-20, rising to 0.6% the following year.

Let me turn to the cash borrowing figures.

With housing associations included, the OBR predicted at the time of the Budget that Britain would borrow £74.1 billion this year.

Instead, they now forecast we will borrow less than that at £73.5 billion.

Borrowing then falls to £49.9 billion next year.

Borrowing then continues to fall, and falls to lower than was forecast at the Budget in every single year after that.

To £24.8 billion in 2017-18; down to just £4.6 billion in 2018-19.

In 2019-20, we reach a surplus.

A surplus of £10.1 billion. That’s higher than was forecast at the Budget. Britain out of the red and into the black.

In 2020-21 the surplus rises to £14.7 billion the year after that.

So Mr Speaker, The deficit falls every year.

The debt share is lower in every year than previously forecast.

We’re borrowing £8 billion less than we expected overall.

And we reach a bigger surplus.

We’ve achieved this while at the same time helping working families as we move to the lower welfare, higher wage economy.

And we have the economic security of knowing our country is paying its way in the world. Mr Speaker, that brings me to our plans for public expenditure and taxation.

I want to thank my Right Honourable Friend the Chief Secretary, our Ministerial colleagues, and the brilliant officials who’ve assisted us, for the long hours and hard work they have put into developing these plans.

We said £5 billion would come from the measures on tax avoidance, evasion and imbalances.

Those measures were announced at the Budget.

Today we go further with new penalties for the General Anti-Abuse Rule we introduced, action on disguised remuneration schemes and stamp duty avoidance, and we will stop abuse of the intangible fixed assets regime and capital allowances.

We will also exclude energy generation from the venture capital schemes, to ensure that they remain well targeted at higher risk companies.

HMRC is making savings of 18% in its own budget through efficiencies – in the digital age, we don’t need taxpayers to pay for paper processing, or 170 separate tax offices around the country.

Instead, we’re reinvesting some of those savings with an extra £800 million in the fight against tax evasion – an investment with a return of almost ten times in additional tax collected.

We’re going to build one of the most digitally advanced tax administrations in the world. So that every individual and every small business will have their own digital tax account by the end of the decade, in order to manage their tax online.

From 2019, once those accounts are up and running, we’ll require capital gains tax to be paid within 30 days of completion of any disposal of residential property.

Together these form part of the digital revolution we’re bringing to Whitehall with this Spending Review.

The Government Digital Service will receive an additional £450m, but the core Cabinet Office budget will be cut by 26%, matching a 24% cut in the budget of the Treasury. And the cost of all Whitehall administration will be cut by £1.9bn.

These form part of the £12bn of savings to government departments I am announcing today.

In 2010, government spending took up 45% of national income.

This was a figure we couldn’t sustain, because it was neither practical nor sensible to raise taxes high enough to pay for that, and we ended up with a massive structural deficit.

Today the state accounts for just under 40% of national income, and it is set to reach 36.5% by the end of the Spending Review.

The structural spending that this represents is at a level that a competitive, modern, developed economy can sustain.

And it’s a level the British people are prepared to pay their taxes for.

It is precisely because this Government believes in decent public services and a properly funded welfare state that we are insistent that they are sustainable and affordable.

To simply argue all the time that public spending must always go up and never be cut is irresponsible, and lets down the people who rely on public services most.

Equally, to fund the things we want the government to provide in the modern world, we have to be prepared to provide the resources.

So Mr Speaker, I am setting the limits for total managed expenditure as follows. This year public spending will be £756bn.

Then £773bn next year, £787bn the year after, then £801bn, before reaching £821bn in 2019-20, the year we’re forecast to eliminate the deficit and achieve the surplus.

After that the forecast public spending rises broadly in line with the growth of the economy, and will be £857bn in 2020-21.

Mr Speaker, the figures from the OBR show that over the next five years, welfare spending falls as a percentage of national income, while departmental capital investment is maintained and is higher at the end of the period.

That is precisely the right switch for a country that is serious about investing in its long term economic success.

Mr Speaker, people will want to know what the levels of public spending mean in practice, and the scale of the cuts we’re asking government departments to undertake.

Over this Spending Review the day–to-day spending of government departments is set to fall by an average of 0.8% a year in real terms.

That compares to an average fall of 2% over the last five years.

So the savings we need are considerably smaller.

This reflects the improvement in the public finances and the progress we’ve already made – indeed, the overall rate of annual cuts I set out in today’s Spending Review are less than half of those delivered over the last five years.

So Britain spending a lower proportion of its money on welfare and a higher proportion on infrastructure.

The Budget balanced, with cuts half what they were in the last Parliament.

Making the savings we need – no less and no more.

And providing the economic security to working people of a country with a surplus that lives within its means.

This does not, of course, mean the decisions required to deliver these savings are easy. But nor should we lose sight of the fact that this Spending Review commits £4 trillion over the next five years.

It’s a huge commitment of the hard-earned cash of British taxpayers, and all those who dedicate their lives to public service will want to make sure it is well spent. Our approach is not simply retrenchment, it is to reform and rebuild.

These reforms will support our objectives for our country.

First – to develop a modern, integrated, health and social care system that supports people at every stage of their lives.

Second – to spread economic power and wealth through a devolution revolution and invest in our long term infrastructure.

Third – to extend opportunity by tackling the big social failures that for too long have held people back in our country.

Fourth – to reinforce our national security with the resources to protect us at home and project our values abroad.

The resources allocated by this Spending Review are driven by these four goals.

The first priority of this government is the first priority of the British people – our National Health Service.

Health spending was cut in Wales. But we have been increasing spending on the NHS in England.

In this Spending Review, we do so again.

We will work with our health professionals to deliver the very best value for that money. That means £22 billion of efficiency savings across the service.

It means a 25% cut in the Whitehall budget of the Department for Health.

It means modernising the way we fund students of healthcare.

Today there is a cap on student nurses; over half of all applicants are turned away, and it leaves hospitals relying on agencies and overseas staff.

So we’ll replace direct funding with loans for new students – so we can abolish this self-defeating cap and create up to 10,000 new training places in this Parliament.

Alongside these reforms we will give the NHS the money it needs.

We made a commitment to a £10bn real increase in the health service budget.

And we fully deliver that today, with the first £6bn delivered up-front next year.

This fully funds the Five Year Forward View that the NHS itself put forward as the plan for its future.

As the Chief Executive of NHS England, Simon Stevens, said: “the NHS has been heard and actively supported”.

Let me explain what that means in cash.

The NHS budget will rise from £101 billion today to £120bn by 2020-21.

This is a half a trillion pound commitment to the NHS over this Parliament – the largest investment in the health service since its creation.

So we have a clear plan for improving the NHS. We’ve fully funded it. And in return patients will see more than £5 billion of health research, in everything from genomes to anti-microbial resistance to a new Dementia Institute and a new, world class public health facility in Harlow, and more:

800,000 more elective hospital admissions, 5 million more outpatient appointments, 2 million more diagnostic tests.

New hospitals funded in Cambridge, in Sandwell and in Brighton.

Cancer testing within four weeks.

And a brilliant NHS available seven days a week.

There is one part of our NHS that has been neglected for too long – and that’s mental health.

I want to thank the All Party Group, led by my Right Honourable Friend for Sutton Coldfield, the Right Honourable Friend for North Norfolk and Alistair Campbell, for their work in this vital area.

In the last Parliament we made a start by laying the foundations for equality of treatment, with the first ever waiting time standards for mental health.

Today, we build on that with £600m additional funding – meaning that by 2020 significantly more people will have access to talking therapies, perinatal mental health services, and crisis care.

All possible because we made a promise to the British people to give our NHS the funding it needed – and in this Spending Review we have delivered.

Mr Speaker, the health service cannot function effectively without good social care.

The truth we need to confront is this: many local authorities are not going to be able to meet growing social care needs unless they have new sources of funding.

That, in the end, comes from the taxpayer.

So in future those local authorities who are responsible for social care will be able to levy a new social care precept of up to 2% on council tax.

The money raised will have to be spent exclusively on adult social care – and if all authorities make full use of it, it will bring almost £2 billion more into the care system.

It’s part of the major reform we’re undertaking to integrate health and social care by the end of this decade.

To help achieve that I am today increasing the Better Care Fund to support that integration, with local authorities able to access an extra £1.5bn by 2019-20.

The steps taken in this Spending Review mean that by the end of the Parliament, social care spending will have risen in real terms.

Mr Speaker, a civilised and prosperous society like ours should support its most vulnerable and elderly citizens.

That includes a decent income in retirement. Over 5 million people have already been auto-enrolled into a pension thanks to our reforms in the last parliament.

To help businesses with the administration of this important boost to our nation’s savings, we’ll align the next two phases of contribution rate increases with the tax years.

The best way to afford generous pensioner benefits is to raise the pension age in line with life expectancy, as we are already set to do in this parliament.

That allows us to maintain a triple lock on the value of the state pension, so never again do Britain’s pensioners receive a derisory increase of 75 pence.

As a result of our commitment to those who’ve worked hard all their lives and contributed to our society, I can confirm that next year the basic State Pension will rise by £3.35 to £119.30 a week.

That’s the biggest real terms increase to the basic State Pension in 15 years.

Taking all of our increases together, over the last 5 years, pensioners will be £1,125 better off a year than they were when we came to office.

We’re also undertaking the biggest change in the state pension for forty years to make it simpler and fairer, by introducing the new single tier pension for new pensioners from April next year.

I am today setting the full rate for our new state pension at £155.65.

That’s higher than the current means-tested benefit for the lowest income pensioners in our society – and another example of progressive government in action.

And instead of cutting the Savings Credit, as in previous fiscal events, it will be instead frozen at its current level where income is unchanged.

So the first objective of this Spending Review is to give unprecedented support to health, social care and our pensioners.

The second is to spread economic power and wealth across our nation.

In recent weeks, great metropolitan areas like Sheffield, Liverpool, the Tees Valley, the North East and the West Midlands have joined Greater Manchester in agreeing to create elected mayors in return for far-reaching new powers over transport, skills and the local economy.

It is the most determined effort to change the geographical imbalance that has bedevilled the British economy for half a century.

We are also today setting aside the £12 billion we promised for our Local Growth Fund and I am announcing the creation of 26 new or extended Enterprise Zones, including 15 zones in towns and rural areas from Carlisle to Dorset to Ipswich.

But if we really want to shift power in our country, we have to give all local councils the tools to drive the growth of business in their area – and rewards that come when you do so. So I can confirm today that, as we set out last month, we will abolish the uniform business rate.

By the end of the parliament local government will keep all of the revenue from business rates.

We’ll give councils the power to cut rates and make their area more attractive to business.

And elected mayors will be able to raise rates, provided they’re used to fund specific infrastructure projects supported by the local business community.

Because the amount we raise in business rates is in total much greater than the amount we give to local councils through the local government grant, we will phase that grant out entirely over this Parliament.

And we will also devolve additional responsibilities.

The Temporary Accommodation Management Fee will no longer be paid through the benefits system – instead, councils will receive £10m a year more, upfront, so they can provide more help to homeless people.

Alongside savings in the public health grant we’ll consult on transferring new powers and the responsibility for its funding, and elements of the administration of housing benefit. Local government is sitting on property worth quarter of a trillion pounds.

So we’re going to let councils spend 100% of the receipts from the assets they sell to improve their local services.

Councils increased their reserves by nearly £10 billion over the last Parliament. We’ll encourage them to draw on these reserves as they undertake reforms.

Mr Speaker, this amounts to a big package of new powers, but also new responsibilities for local councils.

It’s a revolution in the way we govern this country.

And if you take into account both the fall in grant and the rise in council incomes, it means that by the end of this Parliament local government will be spending the same in cash terms as it does today.

Mr Speaker, the devolved administrations of the United Kingdom will also have available to them unprecedented new powers to drive their economies.

The conclusion last week of the political talks in Northern Ireland means additional spending power for the Executive to support the full implementation of the Stormont House Agreement.

That opens the door to the devolution of corporation tax – which the parties have now confirmed they wish to set at the rate of 12.5%.

That’s a huge prize for business in Northern Ireland and the onus is now on the Northern Ireland Executive to play their part and deliver sustainable budgets to allow us to move forward.

So Northern Ireland’s block grant will be over £11 billion by 2019-20 – and funding for capital investment in new infrastructure will rise by over £600m over 5 years, ensuring Northern Ireland can invest in its long term future.

For years Wales has asked for a funding floor to protect public spending there. Now, within months of coming to office, this Conservative Government is answering that call and providing that historic funding guarantee for Wales.

I can announce today that we will introduce the new funding floor – and set it for this Parliament, at 115%. My Right Honourable Friend the Welsh Secretary and I also confirm that we will legislate so that the devolution of income tax can take place without a referendum.

We’ll also help fund a new Cardiff City deal.

So the Welsh block grant will reach almost £15 billion by 2019-20 – while the capital spending will rise by over £900m over 5 years.

As Lord Smith confirmed earlier this month, the Scotland Bill meets the vow made by the parties of the union when the people of Scotland voted to remain in the United Kingdom.

It must be underpinned by a fiscal framework that is fair to all taxpayers and we are ready now to reach an agreement – the ball is in the Scottish Government’s court.

Let’s have a deal that’s fair to Scotland, fair to the UK and that’s built to last. We’re implementing the city deal with Glasgow, and negotiating deals for Aberdeen and Inverness too.

Of course, if Scotland had voted for independence, they would have had their own Spending Review this autumn. With world oil prices falling, and revenues from the North Sea forecast by the OBR to be down 94%, we would have seen catastrophic cuts to Scottish public services.

Thankfully, Scotland remains a strong part of a stronger United Kingdom. So the Scottish block grant will be over £30 billion in 2019-20 – while capital spending available will rise by £1.9 billion through to 2021.

UK Government giving Scotland the resources to invest in its long term future. For the UK Government, the funding of the Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland Offices will all be protected in real terms.

Mr Speaker, we’re devolving power across our country, and we’re also spending on the economic infrastructure that connects our nation.

That’s something Britain hasn’t done enough of for a generation. Now, by making the difficult decisions to save on day to day costs in departments, we can invest in the new roads, railways, science, flood defences and energy Britain needs.

We made a start in the last Parliament – and in the last week Britain topped the league table of the best places in the world to invest in infrastructure.

In this Spending Review we go much further.

The Department for Transport’s operational budget will fall by 37%.

But transport capital spending will increase by 50% to a total of £61 billion – the biggest increase in a generation. That funds the largest road investment programme since the 1970s. For we are the builders.

It means the construction of HS2 to link the Northern Powerhouse to the South can begin. The electrification of lines like the Trans-Pennine, Midland Main Line and Great Western can go ahead.

We’ll fund our new Transport for the North to get it up and running.

London will get an £11 billion investment in its transport infrastructure.

And having met with my Honourable Friend for Folkestone and other Kent MPs, I will relieve the pressure on roads in Kent from Operation Stack with a new quarter of a billion pound investment in facilities there.

We’re making the £300 million commitment to cycling we promised.

And we will be spending over £5 billion on roads maintenance this Parliament, and thanks to the incessant lobbying of my Honourable Friend for Northampton North, Britain now has a permanent pothole fund.

We’re investing in the transport we need; and in the flood defences too.

DEFRA’s day to day budget falls by 15% in this Spending Review, but we’re committing over £2 billion to protect 300,000 homes from flooding.

Our commitment to farming and the countryside is reflected in the protection of funding for our national parks and for our forests.

We’re not making that mistake again and I can tell the House that in recognition of the higher costs they face, we will continue to provide £50 off the water bills of South West Water customers, for the rest of this Parliament.

A promise made to the South West – and a promise kept.

Investing in the long term economic infrastructure of our country is a goal of this Spending Review, and there is no more important infrastructure than energy.

So we’re doubling our spending on energy research with a major commitment to small modular nuclear reactors.

We’re also supporting the creation of the shale gas industry by ensuring that communities benefit from a Shale Wealth Fund, which could be worth up to £1bn.

Support for low-carbon electricity and renewables will more than double.

The development and sale of Ultra Low Emission Vehicles will continue to be supported – but in light of the slower than expected introduction of more rigorous EU emissions testing, we will delay the removal of the diesel supplement from company cars until 2021.

We support the international efforts to tackle Climate Change, and to show our commitment to the Paris talks next week, we are increasing our support for climate finance by 50% over the next five years.

DECC’s day to day resource budget will fall by 22%.

We will reform the Renewable Heat Incentive to save £700 million.

We’re going to permanently exempt our Energy Intensive Industries like steel and chemicals from the cost of environmental tariffs, so we keep their bills down, keep them competitive and keep them here.

I can announce we’re introducing a cheaper domestic energy efficiency scheme that replaces ECO.

Britain’s new energy scheme will save an average of £30 a year from the energy bills of 24 million households.

Because the Government believes that going green should not cost the earth and we’re cutting other bills too. We’re going to bring forward reforms to the compensation culture around minor motor accident injuries.

This will remove over £1bn from the cost of providing motor insurance. We expect the industry to pass on this saving, so motorists see an average saving of £40-50 per year off their insurance bills.

Mr Speaker, this is a Government that backs all our businesses, large and small. We understand there is no growth and no jobs without a vibrant private sector and successful entrepreneurs. So this spending review delivers what businesses need.

Businesses need competitive taxes.

I’ve already announced a reduction in our corporation tax rate to 18%.

Our overall review of business rates will report at the Budget, but I am today helping 600,000 of our smallest businesses by extending our small business rate relief scheme for another year.

Businesses also need an active and sustained industrial strategy. That strategy launched in the last parliament continues in this one.

We commit to the same level of support for our aerospace and automotive industries. Not just for the next five years but for the next decade.

Spending on our new catapult centres will increase.

And we’ll protect the cash support we give through Innovate UK – something we can afford to do by offering £165 million of new loans to companies instead of grants, as France has successfully done for years.

It’s one of the savings that helps us reduce the BIS budget by 17%.

In the modern world one of the best ways you can back business is by backing science. That’s why in the last Parliament, I protected the resource budget for science in cash terms. In this Parliament I’m protecting it in real terms so it rises to £4.7bn.

That’s £500 million more by the end of the decade. Alongside £6.9bn in the capital budget too.

We’re funding the new Royce Institute in Manchester, and new agri-tech centres in Shropshire, York, Bedfordshire and Edinburgh.

And we’re going to commit £75 million to a transformation of the famous Cavendish laboratories in Cambridge, where Crick and Rutherford expanded our knowledge of the universe.

To make sure we get the most from our investment in science, I’ve asked another of our Nobel Laureates Paul Nurse to conduct a review of the research councils.

I want to thank him for the excellent report he has published this week – and we will implement its recommendations.

Britain’s not just brilliant at science. It’s brilliant at culture too.

One of the best investments we can make as a nation is in our extraordinary arts, museums, heritage, media and sport.

£1 billion a year in grants adds a quarter of a trillion pounds to our economy – not a bad return. So deep cuts in the small budget of the Department of Culture, Media and Sport are a false economy.

Its core administration budget will fall by 20%, but I am increasing the cash that will go to the Arts Council, our national museums and galleries.

We’ll keep free museum entry – and look at a new tax credit to support their exhibitions and I will help UK Sport, which has been living on diminishing reserves, with a 29% increase in their budget – we’re going for gold in Rio and Tokyo.

The Right Honourable Member for Hull West and Hessle has personally asked me to support his city’s year of culture – and I am happy to do so.

The money for Hull is all part of a package for the Northern Powerhouse which includes funding the iconic new Factory Manchester and the Great Exhibition of the North. In Scotland, we will support the world famous Burrell Collection.

While here in London we’ll help the British Museum, the Science Museum, and the V&A move their collections out of storage and on display.

And we will fund the exciting plans for a major new home for the Royal College of Arts in Battersea.

And we’re increasing the funding for the BBC World Service, so British values of freedom and free expression are heard around the world.

And all of this can be achieved without raiding the Big Lottery Fund as some feared. It will continue to support the work of hundreds of small charities across Britain.

So too will our £20 million a year of new support for social impact bonds.

There are many great charities that work to support vulnerable women.

And my Honourable Friend, the new Member for Colchester, has proposed to me a brilliant way to give them more help.

300,000 people have signed a petition arguing that no VAT should be charged on sanitary products. We already charge the lowest 5% rate allowable under European law and we’re committed to getting the EU rules changed.

Until that happens, I’m going to use the £15 million a year raised from the Tampon Tax to fund women’s health and support charities. The first £5 million will be distributed between the Eve Appeal, SafeLives and Women’s Aid, and The Haven – and I invite bids from other such good causes.

It’s similar to the way we use LIBOR fines – and today I make further awards from them too. We’ll support a host of military charities, from Guide Dogs for Military Veterans to Care After Combat.

We’ll renovate our military museums – from the Royal Marines and D-Day Museums in Portsmouth, to the National Army Museum, to Hooton Park aerodrome, and the former HQ of RAF Fighter Command at Bentley Priory.

In the Budget I funded one campaign bunker, since then more have emerged and at the suggestion of my Right Honourable Friend for Mid Sussex, we support the fellowships awarded in the name of his grandfather by funding the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust.

We will fund the brilliant Commonwealth War Graves Commission – so it can tend to over 6,000 graves of those who died fighting for our country since the Second World War and we’ll contribute to a memorial to those victims of terrorism who died on the bus in Tavistock Square ten years ago.

It’s a reminder that we’ve always faced threats to our way of life, and have never allowed them to defeat us.

We deliver security so we can spread opportunity, and that, Mr Speaker, is the third objective that drives this Spending Review.

We showed in the last five years that sound public finances and bold public service reform can help the most disadvantaged in our society.

That’s why inequality is down.

Child poverty is down.

The gender pay gap is at a record low.

And the richest fifth now pay more in taxes than the rest of the country put together.

Mr Speaker, in the next five years we will be even bolder in our social reform. It starts with education because that is the door to opportunity in our society.

This Spending Review commits us to a comprehensive reform of the way it’s provided, from childcare to college.

We start with the largest ever investment in free childcare – so working families get the help they need.

From 2017, we will fund 30 hours of free childcare for working families with 3 and 4 year olds.

We’ll support £10,000 of childcare costs tax-free.

To make this affordable this extra support will now only be available to parents working more than 16 hours a week and with incomes of less than £100,000.

We will maintain the free childcare we offer to the most disadvantaged 2 year olds. And to support nurseries delivering more free places for parents, we’ll increase the funding for the sector by £300 million.

Taken together that’s a £6 billion childcare commitment to the working families of Britain. Next, schools.

We build on our far-reaching reforms of the last Parliament that have seen school standards rise even as exams become more rigorous.

We will maintain funding for free infant school meals, protect rates for the pupil premium, and increase the cash in the dedicated schools grant.

We will maintain the current national base rate of funding for our 16-19 year old students for the whole Parliament.

We’re going to open 500 new Free Schools and University Technical Colleges.

Invest £23 billion in school buildings and 600,000 new school places.

And to help all our children make the transition to adulthood – and learn about their responsibilities to society and not just their rights – we will expand the National Citizen Service.

Today, 80,000 students go on National Citizen Service. By the end of the decade we will fund places for 300,000 students on this life-changing programme pioneered by my Right Honourable Friend the Prime Minister.

Five years ago 200 schools were Academies. Today 5,000 schools are.

Our goal is to complete this schools revolution – and help every secondary school become an Academy.

And I can announce that we will let Sixth Form Colleges become Academies too – so they no longer have to pay VAT.

We will make local authorities running schools a thing of the past. This will help save around £600m on the Education Services Grant.

Mr Speaker, I can tell the House that as a result of this Spending Review, not only is the schools budget protected in real terms, but the total financial support for education, including childcare and our extended further and higher education loans, will increase by £10 billion.

And that’s a real terms increase for education too.

There is something else I can tell the House.

We will phase out the arbitrary and unfair school funding system that has systematically underfunded schools in whole swathes of the country.

Under the current arrangements, a child from a disadvantaged background in one school can receive half as much funding as a child in identical circumstances in another school.

In its place, we will introduce a new national funding formula. I commend the many MPs from all parties who have campaigned for many years to see this day come.

The formula will be start to be introduced from 2017 – and my Right Honourable Friend the Education Secretary will consult in the new year.

Education continues in our further education colleges and universities and so do our reforms.

We will not, as many predicted, cut core adult skills funding for FE colleges – we will instead protect it in cash terms.

In the Budget I announced that we would replace unaffordable student maintenance grants with larger student loans.

That saves us over £2bn a year in this Spending Review.

And it means we can extend support to students who’ve never before had government help.

Today I can announce that part-time students will be able to receive maintenance loans – helping some of our poorer students.

We’ll also, for the first time, provide tuition fee loans for those studying higher skills in FE – and extend loans to all postgraduates too.

Almost 250,000 extra students will benefit from all this new support I am announcing today and then there’s our apprenticeship programme – the flagship of our commitment to skills. In the last Parliament, we more than doubled the number of apprentices to 2 million.

By 2020, we want to see 3 million apprentices.

And to make sure they are high quality apprenticeships, we’ll increase the funding per place – and my Right Honourable Friend the Business Secretary will create a new business-led body to set standards.

As a result, we will be spending twice as much on apprenticeships by 2020 compared to when we came to office.

To ensure large businesses share the cost of training the workforce, I announced at the Budget that we will introduce a new apprenticeship levy from April 2017.

Today I am setting the rate at 0.5% of an employer’s paybill.

Every employer will receive a £15,000 allowance to offset against the levy – which means over 98% of all employers – and all businesses with paybills of less than £3 million – will pay no levy at all.

Britain’s apprenticeship levy will raise £3bn a year. It will fund 3 million apprenticeships. With those paying it able to get out more than they put in.

It’s a huge reform to raise the skills of the nation and address one of the enduring weaknesses of the British economy.

Mr Speaker, education and skills are the foundation of opportunity in our country. Next we need to help people find work.

The number claiming unemployment benefits has fallen to just 2.3%, the lowest rate since 1975.

But we’re not satisfied that the job is done. We want to see full employment.

So today we confirm we’ll extend the same support and conditionality we currently expect of those on JSA to over 1 million more benefit claimants.

Those signing on will have to attend the job centre every week for the first three months. And we’ll increase in real terms the help we provide to people with disabilities to get into work.

This can all be delivered within the 14% savings we make to the resource budget of the Department for Work and Pensions, including by reducing the size of their estate and co-locating job centres with local authority buildings.

It’s the way to save money while improving the frontline service we offer people – and providing more support for those who are most vulnerable and in need of our help.

Mr Speaker, you can’t say you’re fearlessly tackling the most difficult social problems if you turn a blind eye to what goes on in our prisons and criminal justice system.

My Right Honourable Friend the Lord Chancellor has worked with the Lord Chief Justice and others to put forward a typically bold and radical plan to transform our courts so they are fit for the modern age.

Under-used courts will be closed, and I can announce today the money saved will be used to fund a £700 million investment in new technology that will bring further and permanent long-term savings, and speed up the process of justice.

Old Victorian prisons in our cities that are not suitable for rehabilitating prisoners will be sold.

This will also bring long term savings and means we can spend over a billion pounds in this Parliament building 9 new modern prisons.

Today, the transformation gets underway with the announcement the Justice Secretary has just made.

I can tell the House that Holloway Prison – the biggest women’s jail in Western Europe – will close.

In the future, women prisoners will serve their sentences in more humane conditions better designed to keep them away from crime.

Mr Speaker, by selling these old prisons we will create more space for housing in our inner-cities. For another of the great social failures of our age has been the failure to build enough houses.

In the end Spending Reviews like this come down to choices about what your priorities are.

And I am clear: in this Spending Review, we choose to build.

Above all, we choose to build the homes that people can buy. For there is a growing crisis of home ownership in our country. 15 years ago, around 60% of people under 35 owned their own home, next year it’s set to be just half of that.

We made a start on tackling this in the last Parliament, and with schemes like our Help to Buy the number of first time buyers rose by nearly 60%. But we haven’t done nearly enough yet.

So it’s time to do much more.

Today, we set out our bold plan to back families who aspire to buy their own home.

First, I am doubling the housing budget. Yes, doubling it to over £2 billion per year. We will deliver, with government help, 400,000 affordable new homes by the end of the decade.

And affordable means not just affordable to rent, but affordable to buy.

That’s the biggest house building programme by any government since the 1970s. Almost half of them will be our Starter Homes, sold at 20% off market value to young first time buyers.

135,000 will be our brand new Help to Buy: Shared Ownership which we announce today. We’ll remove many of the restrictions on shared ownership – who can buy them, who can build them and who they can be sold on to.

The second part of our housing plan delivers on our manifesto commitment to extend the Right to Buy to housing association tenants.

I can tell the House this starts with a new pilot.

From midnight tonight, tenants of 5 housing associations will be able to start the process of buying their own home.

The third element of the plan involves accelerating housing supply.

We are announcing further reforms to our planning system so it delivers more homes more quickly.

We’re releasing public land suitable for 160,000 homes and re-designating unused commercial land for Starter Homes.

We’ll extend loans for small builders, regenerate more run-down estates and invest over £300 million in delivering at Ebbsfleet the first garden city in nearly a century.

Fourth, the government will help address the housing crisis in our capital city with a new scheme – London Help to Buy.

Londoners with a 5% deposit will be able to get an interest-free loan worth up to 40% of the value of a newly-built home.

My Honourable Friend for Richmond Park has been campaigning on affordable home ownership in London. Today we back him all the way.

And the fifth part of our housing plan addresses the fact that more and more homes are being bought as buy-to-lets or second homes.

Many of them are cash purchases that aren’t affected by the restrictions I introduced in the Budget on mortgage interest relief; and many of them are bought by those who aren’t resident in this country.

Frankly, people buying a home to let should not be squeezing out families who can’t afford a home to buy.

So I am introducing new rates of Stamp Duty that will be 3 per cent higher on the purchase of additional properties like buy-to-lets and second homes.

It will be introduced from April next year and we’ll consult on the details so that corporate property development isn’t affected.

This extra stamp duty raises almost a billion pounds by 2021 – and we’ll reinvest some of that money in local communities in London and places like Cornwall which are being priced out of home ownership.

The funds we raise will help building the new homes. So this Spending Review delivers:

A doubling of the housing budget.

400,000 new homes; with extra support for London.

Estates regenerated.

Right to Buy rolled-out.

Paid for by a tax on buy-to-lets and second homes.

Delivered by a government committed to helping working people who want to buy their own home.

For we are the builders.

The fourth and final objective of this spending review is national security. On Monday, the Prime Minister set out to the House the Strategic Defence and Security Review.

It commits Britain to spending 2% of our income on defence.

And it details how these resources will be used to provide new equipment for our war-fighting military, new capabilities for our special forces, new defences for our cyberspace, and new investments in our remarkable intelligence agencies.

By 2020-21 the Single Intelligence Account will rise from £2.1 billion to reach £2.8 billion, and the Defence budget will rise from £34bn today to £40bn.

Britain also commits to spend 0.7% of our national income on overseas development – and we will re-orientate that budget, so we both meet our moral obligation to the world’s poorest and help those in the fragile and failing states on Europe’s borders.

It is overwhelmingly in our national interest that we do so. So our total overseas aid budget will increase to £16.3 billion by 2020.

Britain is unique in the world in making these twin commitments to funding both the hard power of military might and the soft power of international development.

It enables us to protect ourselves, project our influence and promote our prosperity and we do so ably supported by my Right Honourable Friend the Foreign Secretary and our outstanding diplomatic service.

To support them in their vital work, I am today protecting in real terms the budget of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. But security starts at home.

Mr Speaker, our police are on the front line of the fight to keep us safe.

In the last Parliament, we made savings in police budgets – but thanks to the reforms of my Right Honourable Friend the Home Secretary and the hard work of police officers, crime fell and the number of neighbourhood officers increased.

That reform must continue in this Parliament.

We need to invest in new state-of-the-art mobile communications for our emergency services, and introduce new technology at our borders and increase the counter-terrorism budget by 30%.

We should allow elected Police and Crime Commissioners greater flexibility in raising local precepts in areas where they have been historically low.

And further savings can be made in the police as different forces merge their back offices and share expertise. We will provide a new fund to help with this reform.

Mr Speaker, I’ve had representations police budgets should be cut by up to 10%. But now is not the time for further police cuts.

Now is the time to back our police and give them the tools do the job.

I am today announcing there will be no cuts in the police budget at all. There will be real terms protection for police funding. The police protect us, and we’re going to protect the police.

Five years ago, when I presented my first Spending Review, the country was on the brink of bankruptcy and our economy was in crisis.

We took the difficult decisions then.

And five years later I report on an economy growing faster than its competitors and public finances set to reach a surplus of £10 billion. Today we have set out the further decisions necessary to build this country’s future.

Sometimes difficult, yes, but decisions that:

Build the great public services families rely on.

Build the infrastructure and the homes people need.

Build stronger defences against those who threaten our way of life.

And build the strong public finances on which all of these things depend.

We were elected as a one nation government. Today we deliver the Spending Review of a one nation government:

The guardians of economic security.

The protectors of national security.

The builders of our better future.

The government; the mainstream representatives of the working people of Britain.


Shaun Woodward – 2011 Speech to Labour Party Conference

Below is the text of the speech made by Shaun Woodward to Labour Party conference on 29th September 2011.

Conference, when history looks back on the great achievements of Labour in Government, the Peace Process in Northern Ireland will rank high.

The visit of the Queen this year – the first by a British monarch since 1911 – marked both the end of one chapter and the start of the next.

An enormous symbol of healing. Reconciliation. The new Bargain.

The visit where, with President McAleese, the Queen laid a wreath in the Garden of Remembrance, which marks the Easter uprising of those who fought for Irish freedom.

The visit which took in Croke Park, where 14 people were slaughtered by British troops in 1920.

Highly symbolic. Deeply moving. Historic.

Unimaginable twenty years ago.

A reality in May this year.

And Conference, can we take this opportunity to thank President McAleese for all she has done to build the bridges of peace. She leaves a great legacy. We wish her and Dr McAleese well.

But there are new challenges. New troubles.

For the whole island.

The crisis faced by the economy of Ireland.

Compounded by austerity cuts by the Tory Coalition, felt as harshly in Northern Ireland as any other part of the UK.

You know the impact of this failing Government in your constituencies.

The cuts too fast. Too deep.

The waste – jobs being lost.

Especially the young.

And in Northern Ireland 1 in 5 young people, 18 to 24 year olds without a job. The worst figures in fifteen years.

The failing gamble:

The private sector failing to create jobs for those forced on the dole from the public sector.

The consequence:

The careless impact on public services.

In hospitals, schools.

Forecasts that 40,000 jobs are to be lost in Northern Ireland.

People need help now.

The First Minister and Deputy First Minister are working hard to bring foreign investment to Northern Ireland.

There have been some new jobs.

But their hard work is savaged by Coalition policy – not so much a helping hand as a succession of closed doors.

And it really doesn’t help that the Secretary of State believes it a badge of honour to deny the First Minister and Deputy First Minister access to the door of Number 10. It doesn’t make him stronger.

And it certainly leaves Northern Ireland weaker.

The proposed cut in corporation tax is a huge gamble.

It risks making a bad situation worse.

The cut would be paid for by an annual £300 million cut – in Northern Ireland’s block grant.

Trade unions are against the cut.

Unions worried for the tens of thousands in the public sector who will pay for the cut with their jobs.

In schools and hospitals.

Our fear – it heralds a race to the bottom.

No new private sector jobs – for those made redundant.

What happens to them?

The dinner lady on the dole? No prospects.

The nurse? The lab assistant? The hospital cleaner? The scrap heap.

I urge the Secretary of State to think twice before he leaps.

We share the ambition to rebalance the economy in Northern Ireland.

We need to know that the price won’t just be paid in the jobs of those – who through the years of the Troubles – never walked away.

They need security for tomorrow.

They too should be part of the bargain for tomorrow.


You can’t just wish for a better future. You have to work for that future.

And it requires trust.

So keeping the promises in the Good Friday Agreement – including a Bill of Rights for Northern Ireland matters.

The Coalition’s decision – to renege on this commitment – is a huge error of judgement.

It will be a running sore, until the Secretary of State understands and reverses his judgement.

Commitments matter. Beware of breaking your promises.

This time last year I asked the Secretary of State to honour the commitment by a former Prime Minister, Tony Blair, that there would be an Inquiry into the death of Pat Finucane.

He promised his decision would be soon.

No decision yet.

Why are the family still waiting?

If it is his intention to renege on the commitment, I urge him again, think again.

Our promise made in good faith.

It helped establish the trust to build the St Andrews Agreement.

A huge gamble – assuming he decides against the Inquiry.

It will have consequence.

Northern Ireland will only be released from the grip of its past by dealing with the past.

Renege – and you risk damaging foundations.

In this new era, safeguarding the peace carries enormous risks.

A heavy burden, borne by police officers of the PSNI.

They do so without complaint.

Their collective commitment to serve the community, regardless of risk, is quite simply heroic.

Ask the family of Police Constable Ronan Kerr.

Brutally murdered by dissidents earlier this year.

We pay tribute to him. Our sympathy to his family.

To the many police officers, and others, who face the new and continuing risks of very dangerous criminal behaviour. We give these brave men and women our thanks.

We need to ensure that the world knows the vast majority of people in Northern Ireland have moved on.

But we will not ensure lasting security by pretending the real dangers posed by increasing numbers of dissidents have gone away.

More threats last year than the year before.

More attacks.

The bad will not prevail.

But we cannot wish the bad away.

Hard painful work.

Good community relations.


Proving the dividends of the peace.

And in tandem, Government must relentlessly mitigate the risks.

It remains a challenge.

The task of the British Government – and of the Opposition – is to ensure there is no quarter for those dissidents who would damage the politics.

For the bad guys we must ensure they have no opportunity.

This comes at a price.

But it is a price government must pay.

Conference, Northern Ireland has much to teach us today. It offers a wider palette from which we can paint our vision of the future, for the whole of our country.

When Ed Miliband spoke on Tuesday about the need for a new bargain, new values and a better framework for our country, he significantly raised the game.

Draw inspiration from what was achieved in Northern Ireland.

In 1997 we dared to dream.

We said there could be new rules. Better values.

We defied the cynics.

We set out to ensure values of fairness, justice and equality would have their place alongside seemingly irreconcilable individual freedoms and collective expressions.

The peace process was built on a new bargain.

The dream became a reality.

The impossible, possible.

Conference, the people of Northern Ireland are able to move on because of the new bargain.

As we look to our own future, and what we can achieve for our country in that future, remember Northern Ireland.

This achievement was built on better values, shared values, a better book of rules.

It can be done. For in Northern Ireland it was done.

Thank you.

Leanne Wood – 2013 Plaid Cymru Speech

Below is the text of the speech made by the Leader of Plaid Cymru, Leanne Wood, made to the party’s annual conference on 4th March 2013.


It was a pleasure to travel through Wales yesterday to reach Ynys Mon, to cross the bridge to reach the apex of our country ready for this most auspicious day, the 1st of March.

Ynys Mon, Mam Cymru – is special to Wales.

This is the county of so many Welsh firsts –

– the first comprehensive school was set up here, a great symbol of the best in our creative tradition,

– our first woman MP in Megan Lloyd George,

– the first branch of the Women’s Institute.

It is a fitting place for the first woman leader of Plaid Cymru to pay tribute to the first Plaid Cymru minister in the history of our party.

I want to say Thank you to Ieuan for his tremendous service to Ynys Mon and to Wales for more than a quarter of a century.

In 1987, his victory here as an MP will be remembered as a ray of light in a dismal decade for Plaid Cymru.

A breakthrough that gave this party heart and confidence for the years ahead.

In 1997, it was Ieuan’s tele-canvassers that helped this nation win the greatest prize. By winning the referendum which gave birth to our democracy.

It was in 1997 that we won our dignity.

The icing on the cake came in 2011, when Welsh public opinion crystallised in favour of Wales.

Those referendum results will be your most precious legacy, Ieuan.

In 2007 you took us into Government.

And let us be clear, that is the ultimate goal of a political party like ours.

Your shining example in that government will continue to provide us with inspiration for the years ahead.

So it is fitting that, here on your territory, I say thank you Ieuan – from me personally and on behalf of this party.

Diolch o galon.

Ynys Ieuan – sorry I mean Ynys Mon – represents our nation’s northernmost point.

It’s a perfect place to get a perspective on where Wales has been and where we are heading as a nation.

Since the financial crash of 2008, a lot has changed.

Yet we have a government in London ploughing ahead with its failed incompetent policies of austerity.

At the same time we have a ‘Welsh’ government in Cardiff happy to carry on with a mentality of ‘nothing to do with us Gov’.

Thinking about where we are and where we are going doesn’t mean looking back and dwelling on the past – although of course it’s vital to have an understanding of our history.

It is more important to look forward.

Ymlaen, as we say!

I say it’s time for us to chart our own course. We are Wales’ only national party.

Why? For one simple reason.

We want to build this country.

We want to unlock our people’s full potential.

We want to build a path of human progress.– not in the abstract, not in the comfortable and complacent corridors of power – but in the streets of every community, in the villages and in the valleys, where we live.

Our communities are important to Plaid Cymru.

Mae ymgyrch dwy fil ac un deg chwech yn dechrau nawr.

Heddiw. Yma. Gyda ni. Gyda chi.

Pam ydyn ni eisiau ennill yn dwy fil ac un deg chwech?

Achos dydy Cymru gwell ddim yn gallu aros.

Mae’r problemau yn ein cymunedau yng Nghymru yn ddwfn, yn ddwys ac yn mynd nol yn bell.

Mae rhaid i ni roi hwb i ein economi a chreu cymunedau sy’n ffit i wynebu heriau’r presennol a’r dyfodol.

Mae rhaid I ni roi ein holl ymdrech mewn i greu swyddi.

Gyda swyddi, daw hyder

Gyda hyder, mae popeth yn bosib

Fel rhywun sy’n ceisio dysgu Cymraeg, dwi’n deall pa mor bwysig yw hyder!

Mae’r iaith yn bwysig iawn i fi, a dwi eisiau gweld Cymru, yn y dyfodol, yn genedl ble mae Cymraeg yn un o ieithoedd y stryd ym mhob rhan o Gymru.

Mae’r Cyfrifiad wedi dod gyda newyddion ddrwg I ni

Mae’r ffigyrau yn dangos bod y nifer o siaradwyr Cymraeg yn mynd lawr.

Rydyn ni’n colli tua dwy fil o siaradwyr Gymraeg bob blwyddyn.

A beth mae’r llywodraeth Cymru yn gwneud am hyn?

Dim byd. Dim ond oedi.

Dim ond wythnos yma, gwnaeth Llafur atal cyflwyno safonau iaith.


Mae’r iaith, a’r economi yn holl bwysig yn ardaloedd fel fan hyn yn Sir Fon.

Ac ar hyd a lled y wlad, mae rhaid i ni cynnig cyfleoedd i bobl aros, byw a gweithio yn eu cymunedau.

Mae rhaid i ni creu dyfodol i’n pobl ifanc – gobaith i’r cenedl nesaf.

And that is why I have insisted on the economy and job creation being our number one priority since my election as Plaid Cymru leader nearly a year ago.

For thirty years Wales has had a poor deal from a succession of UK governments.

We’ve seen factories come and go, inward investment peaks and troughs.

And the gap between the rich and the poor has grown and grown.

Broken dreams.

Broken lives.

Broken families.

It’s time this finally stopped

It is time to put government back on the side of the people

To have a government working to make sure people have the basics.

A decent home, with decent healthcare within a reasonable travel distance.

A job with decent pay so that the bills are affordable

It’s not difficult – with people in work on decent wages they pay into the tax pot

The more that goes into that tax pot, the more and better quality public services and social protection we can afford.

The current austerity drive has failed;

– the projections for economic growth have failed;

– the efforts to maintain the UK’s triple A credit status has failed;

– attempts to cut unemployment in Wales have failed.

Failure has been the hallmark of this discredited UK government.

And where is the opposition? It was up to Plaid Cymru MPs to lead the charge the bedroom tax this week on the floor of the House of Commons.

And it’s a good job that the Tories in the Assembly have their fingers on the pulse. Just this week, they’ve popped up to promise tax cuts for the better off!

Plaid Cymru wants to see policies that will help more businesses to start up– how will cutting taxes for those on the 40% rate help that?

Tackling business rates and a fairer capital gains tax system – these are the kinds of things that would make a difference.

Measures that would allow our wealth creators to flourish.

Measures that could be taken now if the Tories were really interested in helping business.

These are the priorities of Plaid Cymru and we will earn the right to govern our country by presenting a responsible, competent and business-friendly plan for boosting the Welsh economy.

We must make the most of the resources that we have. Our most precious resource is our people.

The road to our future will be built by people here.

If we as Welsh people don’t build it, it won’t be built.

We know we need better infrastructure, better communication links throughout our country.

Take a look at our rail. Why has it taken a century to electrify a single mile of our railways?

For one reason alone – because the switch that needed to be flicked lay idle in London.

We know that we cannot look to London to provide the answers.

That has been tried and failed. Friends, we’ve been a long time waiting.

That switch or the spark to power up our nation has to be in our hands.

We can achieve anything if we have the determination to shape and craft for ourselves as Idris Davies put it: “a future that is better than the past.”

And we can. We must.

We will create a future that is better than the past.

After all, what is this Welsh democracy for if not the possibility to do things differently?

We’ve worked hard for our democracy. Let’s use it.

It is a capacity that the Wales of our fore-mothers and fathers did not have.

We have the chance to make the most of our lives, to do the best we can do, to be the best that we can be.That was the spirit that inspired miners and quarry workers to build libraries and universities the length and breadth of Wales.

It is what inspired them to provide scholarships for thousands, so those who otherwise could not, should have a better future.

Our history will be what we make it.

And we can start today by imagining and believing in a different future.

I have led this party for almost a year.

It has been a proud and exhilarating experience and I am privileged to lead the only party which puts Wales first each and every time – without question.

What have I learned over the last year?

I’ve learned that people the length and breadth of Wales have an unquenchable hope, a huge appetite for a different course – an acceptance that we cannot continue as we are.

Our country contains an enormous well-spring of positive, creative, almost limitless social energy.

I have been inspired by the people I have met who want to make a difference to their world and their Wales.

We only need to look at our country’s success in sport. we are punching well above our weight on a world scale, in a wide variety of sports from cycling to rugby, football to tae kwondo.

And I pay tribute to those who made last weekend such a fantastic weekend of sport in Wales

– Becky James and Elinor Barker in the cycling

– The women’s and men’s teams in the rugby

– Swansea City winning the League Cup

– Wrexham at Wembley later this month

– And Cardiff City on the brink of the Premiership

Well done to all of you for doing our nation proud.

Welsh sports women and men give us a lot to be proud of, but also a lot to aspire to.

They have shown us what can be achieved with confidence, self-belief and the right opportunities.

Translate that for our nation, for our economy. With that right combination, there is no reason why Wales can’t be as or more successful than the scores of nations of a roughly similar size.

As in team sports, if we all pull together as a team this small nation can and will do great things.

People are calling out for a vision.

Yes, there is scepticism; that is hardly surprising. The old models of our economy, our politics, our environment are broken.

People are looking for new direction.

A new start.

New leadership.

I am determined to make sure they find it here, in the only party that this country of ours can rightly call its own. The Party of Wales.

For a vision to work it must be credible. It must set out where we want to go, but it must also set out the first steps on the journey.

Our vision is of an independent Wales – independent in spirit and in reality, not dependent on handouts from Brussels or from London, a country fuelled, not by charity, but by our own success. The question is how do we get there from here?

We live in the present and it’s in the present tense that we make ourselves relevant to people’s daily lives.

Our first steps will be outlined in our programme.

And it is with a relevant programme combined with a determination to fight for our communities, that we will make Anglesey proud again when Plaid Cymru wins here in May.

The work of building the new Wales starts here and it starts now.

And there is so much to be done.

This party has a raft of good policies which are ripe for the times in which we find ourselves.

So ripe in fact that the Welsh Government has had to adopt our ideas in the absence of their own

Our plan to take control of the national airport

Our plan to tackle the Council Tax benefit gap

Our plan for a public investment vehicle that we called “Build for Wales”

Our plan for a conversation on the Welsh language

Our plan for a science park on the Menai Straits

These are all policies pushed by the Party of Wales then adopted by the Welsh Government.

We are working hard, coming up with solutions that can be put in place now, to the problems that people face in their everyday lives.

And I am talking about these policies and discussing them in the public meetings I am holding with people up and down the land.

Plaid Cymru intends to talk to people in every single nook, cranny and corner of Wales.

And the more we talk with people in our communities and listen – the more we will get our policies and our programme of government right

I have set this party a big challenge.

Between now and 2016 I want us to have a million conversations with the people of Wales.

That’s a two-way conversation where we listen and take note of what people say

And during those conversations we will be positive, we will promote optimism for the future and hope

And we will offer practical solutions to the problems people are facing every day

Our campaign for the 2016 Assembly election has already begun.

Our campaign will have the energy and the excitement and the integrity to offer a real alternative.

It will be rooted in the participation of people in every city, in every town, in every county and in every village.

A campaign that will restore people’s faith in politics.

Plaid Cymru, the party of Wales must win that election.

We must win for the children of Wales.

One-quarter of the children in this country are growing up poor.

When they grow up, one-quarter of them will be unemployed.

40% of them will leave primary school not able to read and write to the standard expected of their age.

Thousands will be in schools in the quarter of all local education authorities that are currently in special measures.

We can do so much better than this.

Where is the sense of urgency we need in Welsh politics now?

We can’t afford to wait any longer before we see an improvement in standards within our education system.

There will be teenagers doing their GCSEs this Summer who have spent the whole of their education under devolution.

There can be no excuses, education is devolved in full.

These young people have watched as Wales; in the past a watchword for educational excellence, has slipped further and further behind – not just England, but behind 36 other countries in reading and 38 in maths.

And it is our boys who are falling behind the furthest. We must teach our boys the basics.

Unless the basics are right, we won’t get the rest right.

Plaid Cymru will implement a comprehensive literacy and numeracy programme with early intervention to specifically target boys, but aiming to make sure all children are performing to the best standard for them by the age of 11.

We want to see if we can utilise willing volunteers like retired teachers and other professionals in this work.

We want to extend the principles of the foundation phase to offer a much wider range of out of school and weekend activities which promote and support classroom based learning.

And we want to offer more vocational opportunities to young people to try a range of ‘trades’ before committing to an apprenticeship or college course.

Making sure trades are taught alongside business skills and/or co- operative skills will help to train the next generation to do the jobs we will need doing.

The government’s approach to education has shown nothing less than a shocking dereliction of duty, an absolute travesty.

For Wales – a country where in the past, great store was placed on the value of education it is extraordinary that it has now become one of our great failures.

The Welsh education system has become the graveyard of ambition.

When a child fails their education, the consequences stay with them for life.

Ask anyone who didn’t sit or who didn’t pass the 11 plus.

But when our education system fails our children, who takes responsibility? To date, no one.

Not one education minister has ever been sacked for poor results.

All too often, failure is rewarded with promotion.

My view is that the time has passed where we in Wales can blame all and sundry for our problems.

Regardless of our history, we are where we are. We have what we have. Let’s make the most with what we’ve got.

No more blaming others – let’s take the responsibility for putting it right ourselves. Now.

Wales needs leadership.

Wales needs a leader who has the energy as well as the determination to fulfil the great responsibility that leading a country like ours involves.

In health, in education and in the economy – our country needs to be doing so much better.

We need someone who will work every hour and leave no stone unturned to make Wales a better place.

Someone who can see the future and is prepared to champion Wales at every opportunity.

Selling our strengths not bemoaning our weaknesses.

Wales needs real leadership.

I pledge to you that when I am returned as First Minister in 2016, I will make sure standards are raised in education.

A Plaid Cymru government will work to provide opportunities for all to reach their best potential and we will make sure the brightest children are able to excel.

So far in the fourth Assembly there have been 59 task and finish groups set up by the government.

That is almost as many reviews announced in under two years, as in the whole history of devolution.

Why so many reviews when the few targets that have been set have been badly missed?

90% of UK GVA by 2010? Missed. Badly.

25% of people Welsh-speaking by 2010? Missed. Badly.

Welsh Ambulances arriving within eight minutes of an incident in 65% of cases.

Missed month after month after month.

Our Assembly is meant to fill the accountability gap.

We shouldn’t have to be caught in a one party state of denial, immune from criticism, refusing to take responsibility.

59 task and finish groups since May 2011 can only mean one thing – a government devoid of ideas.

Well I know the source of the problem and I have a simple solution

It’s time this government was task and finished off

Plaid Cymru wants a Wales which takes control of its own decisions.

A Wales which has control over its own affairs so that we can implement our comprehensive economic plan.

As we stated in our evidence to the Silk Commission this week, the criminal justice system, the police, broadcasting, energy and one of our most precious resources – water – should all be in Welsh hands.

Transfer these responsibilities now.

No hesitation. No excuses. No exceptions and No delay.

Given the failure of its ideology driven austerity politics, Wales should not be prepared to trust the UK Government with any powers.

It is time now to do things differently, for ourselves.

It is time for Wales to have the tools to do the job of turning around our economy.

To be in better shape for business, the Party of Wales wants a connected country.

An improved transport and IT network, making use of rail electrification to build a Valleys Metro and to significantly reduce Cardiff to Bangor rail times.

Being better connected means creative investment in our ports and airports to connect Wales to the world.

And it means high speed broadband connection for all – not just the lucky few.

I want a country where people have opportunities to do well.

Plaid Cymru wants to see improvements in the skills of our people so that we can build a new sustainable, manufacturing economy.

We want to push green engineering skills, and that is why we focused on apprenticeships in our budget negotiations and it is why we have proposed a green skills construction college.

We want to train people in Wales and we want to incentivise them to stay.

And we want to encourage the best innovation in our public sector with additional training for workers so that we can develop the best quality public services.

I want to see more of the Welsh pound invested in Welsh companies and better local procurement to lock that money into our local communities, to help to create more opportunities for people to do well.

This is just a flavour of the policies Wales needs to succeed and flourish.

We are an ancient country with a young democracy.

Proud of its past and deeply frustrated by its present.

Fortunately this old country has a young party, whose members are brimming with ideas, with enthusiasm, with hope and with confidence for a future that is better than its past.

It is a future we have yet to shape.

The shape is up to us.

Political parties are sometimes blunt instruments.

They are far from perfect.

But in a democracy political parties are the only way we have so far invented to create policies to improve our lives and the lives of our communities.

We ask the people of Wales not to put their faith in us, but to invest their faith collectively together with our own.

To become co-creators, co-producers, co-builders of our country.

I ask you to imagine, just for a moment.

Suspend reality.

Picture in your mind a different future.

Can you visualise a successful Wales, a strong economy and a public service infrastructure that people are not dependent on, but one which enables them instead to flourish?

Can you imagine, with us a different future?

Can you believe that achieving that different, successful future is possible?

Can you see it in your own mind?

Can you imagine what that success might feel like?

I know it is possible. It’s why I do what I do.

But we need more people to see this vision.

Come with us, the party of Wales.

The only party that puts this country first without fail…

Join with Plaid Cymru on this journey….

Help us build our country up.

If, together, we want that vision enough, we can make that future our own.

Leanne Wood – 2012 Speech to Plaid Cymru Conference

Below is the text of a speech made by the leader of Plaid Cymru, Leanne Wood, on the 14th September 2012 at the Plaid Cymru Conference.


It’s an honour to stand here today and address you in my first Leader’s speech to our Annual Conference.

It is, of course, an opportunity to present myself to a new audience.

What you hear and what you see is what you get with me.

No varnish, no veneer. Just Wood!

I promise that is the last Wood joke I will make until I can address you all as the first Plaid Cymru First Minister!

Those of you in the hall, of course, know the kind of leader you elected.

Someone not afraid to speak her mind.  Someone who puts principle at the core of her politics.

There are times when that isn’t easy. Times even when it’s maybe not to our advantage in the short-run.

But in the long-run of political life– and politics is a marathon, never a sprint – I’ll tell you this – people have seen through politicians that say one thing, and do another – who promise the earth, and leave nothing but the bitter taste of disappointment in their wake.

People are thirsting for something new, and I’m determined that is what we are going to give them.

I’ve always said I wanted to do politics a little differently, and for me our conference is a space for the leader, not just to speak, but also to listen.

– and I’d like to thank you so much for the words of advice and encouragement you have sent to me over the last few months.

We have four exciting years ahead of us.

And it is my aim to cross the finishing line in 2016 as the winner – leading Plaid, the Government of Wales.

We have got to get over that finishing line together – I’m going to need each and every one you to roll up your sleeves and commit to the hard work necessary to build the organisation and the momentum we will need to get over that line as winners.

The world champion cyclists speeding through this mid-Wales town today are in the race to win! Not to do well. To win. And Plaid Cymru wishes good luck to them all.

Wales now needs more than ever a government that thinks ahead and plans to protect all those people who are at risk of sinking beneath this terrible tide of austerity – wave after wave of cuts in jobs, cuts in benefits, cuts in services, in pay and in real income.

Wales now needs a government that takes responsibility – that tries to solve the problems not just blame others…

What does that mean?

It means a government that protects Welsh pensioners from cuts in council tax benefit by doing a deal with local government – like the one reached in Scotland – rather than simply acting as the Tories’ henchmen.

A government that makes sure it gets the budget for Remploy factories devolved to Wales before the factories are closed down.

We need a government that will ease the burden on that mother who has too much week left at the end of the money.

She needs a Welsh government that makes sure her kids are fed and well-educated, that makes sure her family are warm enough in the winter, one that will legislate to make sure the loan sharks get off her back – that’s what she needs.

And we need her to know that it’s a Plaid Cymru government that will deliver it.

As a party we have four years of hard work ahead of us.

Like all those Olympian and Paralympians, the prize we seek for Wales won’t be won in the final two weeks of the race itself. It will be won in all those months and years of door-knocking in all weathers, tweeting all hours, in the million conversations we need to have to win the trust of a nation.

So we’ve come to Brecon, the town where two rivers meet – the Usk and the Honddu, is a fitting meeting place for this party, where two rivers of thought also mingle.

Two tributaries of the great Welsh radical tradition: the green of Welsh nationalism, green because of our love for our native land, but green too for the love of a planet we share; and the red of socialism, red like our blood to symbolize our common humanity.

If we add the white of peace, we get the red, white and green – three colours united under one banner. The colours of our country.

Geology bequeathed Wales with mineral riches that should have been a blessing but for too many turned out to be a curse.

We cannot make the same mistake again.

We have learned from our history.

Our national, natural resources are our inheritance, ours to harness for the benefit of the people of Wales.

The green economy can be a motor for our economic progress, powering our second industrial revolution. It already employs over 40,000 people, more than financial services and telecommunications combined.

And we can be innovators too. A Cardiff-based company is the first in the world to use a process similar to photosynthesis in its patented solar film. It is also the first in the world to use 100% renewable energy to produce renewable technology. Now that’s what I call sustainability!

But as the Welsh Government’s own Sustainability commissioner, Peter Davies, has argued we are not realising our full potential.

Opportunities are being wasted.

So what will we do?

One of the first acts of a Plaid Cymru government will be to establish our own national powerhouse, a Glas Cymru for green energy, investing in national infrastructure from tidal energy to community-owned wind and hydro power, focused on our own energy needs and yes, where appropriate, exporting this valuable commodity but, and here’s the difference, repatriating the profits and reinvesting them for the benefit of all the people of Wales.

Not like before.

Over the years, people have sacrificed so much, like the miners who lost their lives this time last year in the tragedy at the Gleision mine in the Swansea valley. For many those images unfolding in front of us on the rolling news media stoked deep memories and emotions for those old enough to remember a time when peoples’ lives were littered with such cruel events. Our thoughts are with the families and friends of those whose lives were so tragically cut short.

As Gwyn Alf Williams once said, we as a nation have been around for a millennium and a half, it’s about time we had the keys to our own front door.

It’s time, as [one of Plaid’s founders and economist] DJ Davies said, for us to cultivate our own garden.

We must now take control of our economic destiny.

We must take responsibility for where we are going. And what better way than to seed and support our own homegrown businesses.

Locally owned, family owned, co-operatively owned, community- owned – these are the businesses we want to see become the bedrock of our economy.

Here in rural Wales I am very much mindful of the crisis in Welsh agriculture, particularly in the dairy industry. It’s a crisis that has driven people to the edge of desperation. Many Welsh farmers were on the brink of going under with the milk price dispute earlier this summer. But this crisis which strikes to the very heart of our local food system has the potential to hurt us all in the long-run. We need more people producing food not fewer – we must be helping not hindering what is by definition this most essential of all industries.

2013 across the world will be a year of a global food crisis. Extremes of temperatures and drought in places as far apart as the American Mid-West, the Russian Steppes and the Australian Outback will mean food shortages on an unprecedented scale. Already corn prices have risen by 25% worldwide and are set to rise higher. In parts of Africa and Asia this may trigger famine and social upheaval on a vast scale.

We are fortunate to live in a green, fertile, wind-and-rain-swept land. You can tell it’s summer in Wales – the rain is warmer. But we should never take that for granted. Being at the end of a long and distant food chain or relying on oil imports to power our cars or heat our homes is neither sustainable nor ecologically resilient in the long run.

We have the capacity to be energy independent.  We have the capacity to be self-sufficient in water – if Westminster allows us – and we can be food-secure, producing more of our food locally for local consumption.

An early action of a Plaid Cymru Government would be to set ambitious but achievable targets to get us powering our cars and our futures renewably, weaning ourselves off our addiction to oil. After all it was Wales that gave the world the fuel cell; let’s now show them how to use it.

You know it’s important in politics as in life to get the right perspective. We may see Wales as a small country, standing on the Brecon Beacons it’s not smallness we see. Behind you stretch the southern seaboard and the valleys. Look north and west and there you’ll see the low green hills of the uplands, and beyond them the mountains of the north. Look at that landscape and reject any doubts you may have. This small nation has it within vast reservoirs of potential.

We have and we can achieve the greatest of things. But first comes those two critical ingredients:  hard work and self-belief.

Nowhere has this been more evident than in the Olympics this year. Wales achieved its highest ever tally of golds in the Olympic and Paralympic games. In the two games,  we won more medals per head than any other nation in Europe.

Glasgow 2014 here we come!

There we’ll have Welsh athletes in a Welsh team, representing Wales. They will focus all their energy on winning for Wales. And we will do the same.

Their success has allowed us some small distraction from what continue to be very difficult times.

To us in Plaid Cymru, it was obvious from the start that the Westminster Coalition’s strategy was never going to work.

Wales needs jobs. It’s as simple as that. And there’s plenty of work that needs doing. Like Roosevelt and his economic plans in the United States of the ’30s, Wales needs a new New Deal. A green New Deal – aiming to provide skill, work, hope and opportunity for a new generation who have a right to believe that life can be better.

The policies being pursued by the UK Government in Wales have taken a crisis and turned it into a disaster.

And we know all too well who has been hurt the most by austerity.

Look at the victims of welfare reform to see who is paying.

So let’s be clear. Austerity has nothing to do with economics; it has everything to do with politics. The recession has given this Government a golden opportunity to attack the Welfare State and those who rely on it…and attack they have.

Where is the opposition? Who is defending the unemployed from these savage attacks? From what I can see, the official opposition offers Austerity Lite. Hardly surprising after Labour gave us light-touch regulation, the Private Finance Initiative and regional pay. Their latest idea is pre-distribution, which is short-hand for undoing the mistakes that Labour made while in Government.

Plaid Cymru’s economic commission has laid bare the extent of the challenge we face.

Everywhere we look we see the symptoms of our predicament.

Wales has the highest brain drain of all the nations of Britain. Almost 40% of the graduates of universities in Wales have left Wales within six months of graduating – that compares with just 6% in England and 7% in Northern Ireland. They leave – and still leave disproportionately for London – because the opportunities simply aren’t here.

It’s important to remember, and continue to instil in young people the importance of education. Throughout our recent history, those who went before us understood education’s value, especially as a route out of poverty. ‘The miners gave us libraries’ the Manics said, My mother encouraged me – well, nagged would be another word for it –  to work hard in school by holding up her hands to me after another shift at the factory, asking me if I wanted my hands to be red-raw like hers.  When I think of the fate of this country, I often think of her message to me written in the lines of those outstretched hands.

That was 25 years ago – in the 80s – at a time every bit as challenging as this. Then we in Wales were creating new businesses at the same rate as the rest of the United Kingdom. Now we generate less than two thirds the number of new businesses per person than the rest of the UK. The situation is even worse when it comes to inward investment.

In the early 90s Wales, with just 5% of the population, was securing one in every five of all foreign investment projects into the UK. Now we’re managing less than 2%, one tenth of what we managed twenty years ago – and Mrs Romney’s Welsh cakes are doing a better selling job for Wales abroad than anything done by this Welsh Government.

How did that happen?

It is plain to see that the Welsh economy is seriously under-performing. Our economic under-development is the single biggest hurdle to our progress as a nation. It condemns us to dependence on a Government in Westminster, of whichever hue, that will never have Wales’ interests as its over-riding priority.

It doesn’t have to be this way. Our decline, our poverty, is not, and never has been, inevitable.

It is for all these reasons that we have declared raising Welsh economic performance to a level equal to the rest of the UK the over-riding priority of this party for the decade to come.

To get there we need to use all the skills at our disposal – public, private and voluntary. In a small nation we cannot hide away in our sectoral silos. We have to work together.

Our Economic Commission is looking at a comprehensive strategy. But I have asked the Commission specifically to look at three sets of measures that a Plaid Cymru Government could implement:

Firstly, establishing a new mutual, Innovation and Enterprise Wales – I.E. Wales – IE drosGymru – bringing together the best of the skills of the public and private sectors – to push forward a Welsh New Deal.  It was D.J. Davies in the 30s that first called for a development authority for Wales.  It’s time again to reinvigorate, regenerate and recreate a new catalyst for creativity in a form fit for the Wales of the 21st century.

Secondly, if the London-based banks won’t lend to Welsh businesses, then we need to create our own financial system, so that more of the money made in Wales stays in Wales. Channel Four has its Bank of Dave – let’s have our Bank of Dai!

Let’s free Finance Wales to become a real development bank, create a wholesale bank for the social enterprise sector, build up a network of business credit unions, and turn the existing patchwork of community lenders into a national savings super-mutual.

Public sector pension funds in Wales have billions in assets, six billion in total, hardly any of which is invested in Wales. Surely we can do better.  As part of our further recommendations to the Silk Commission we will seek the power to offer tax breaks – similar to those currently available in Canada – to those pension funds prepared to invest in their own communities. Investing 2 or 3% of our own workers assets in Wales would help transform the Welsh economy while representing no risk at all to the future returns to scheme members.

That’s a flavour of some of what we can and will do in Government. We can do great things.

With hard work. And self-belief.

At Westminster our team led by Elfyn will continue to offer up alternatives to the UK government’s strategy.

And believe me, I will do the same when I meet the new Welsh Secretary.

But the sad truth is that Plan B may be a long time coming.

Government after Government in Westminster believed there was only one game in town, one industry in one City, and that industry was the City and the City was London. And now that industry has been found wanting and so the cupboard is bare.

There is no point looking to London for our salvation. Changing the head of UK Plc will make as much difference to Wales as changing the head of Barclays has done for the culture of the City of London. Personalities come and go in London’s corridors of power but the policies and priorities and the problems for Wales persist.

Harold Wilson – 1984 Maiden Speech in the House of Lords


Below is the text of the maiden speech in the House of Lords of Harold Wilson, made on 14th March 1984.

My Lords, in hoping for the indulgence of the House for my maiden speech, I should perhaps confess that this is not in fact the first time that I have spoken from these red Benches. My first parliamentary speech in 1945, in the role of the then lowest form of ministerial life—Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Public Building and Works—was made from the Front Bench in here because, owing to the bombing of another part of the Palace of Westminster, their then Lordships graciously made this Chamber available. I was assigned to the task of directing the progress of the other building.

I should just like to mention that that was after Walter Elliot (remembered by the older ones of us here), seeing from Whitehall that the Palace of Westminster was on fire, ordered—simply ordered, without any authority—the fire brigade to let the other place burn, pointing out that it was only 100 years old, having been built after the Treasury, as usual, had tried to save money the wrong way and had burnt all those tally sticks. So the fire brigade managed to save at any rate this part of the building.

I do not know whether in a debate such as today’s I have to declare an interest as Chancellor of the University of Bradford—unpaid. But at any rate this debate on education gives a number of us—including myself—the opportunity to express our anxieties over present and forecast future difficulties that the Open University (OU) is required currently to face.

I had conceived the idea of the Open University well before anyone ever thought of making me Leader of Her Majesty’s Opposition. I think that I called it the University of the Air, and I kept it under wraps right through the summer of 1964 before announcing it. I announced it finally, with the usual hand-outs, in September. So far as I recall, not a single newspaper reported the plan, except the Economist, then edited by Geoffrey Crowther, who was rapturous about the idea, and later he became the first Chancellor of the University.

In making that proposal, which, as I say, did not receive a lot of early support, I had particularly in mind the fighting men of World War II, many of who perhaps would have gone to university but for the war, and who had married and had family commitments: the Open University gave some of them a chance to earn wages or salaries and at the same time to study. I do not need to tell this House that the Treasury was implacably opposed. Well, of course—what would your Lordships expect? But so, I am sorry to say, was the Department of Education, which I understand has improved a little from those days. But the resources of civilisation were not to be discounted. I appointed my noble friend Lady Lee of Asheridge Minister of State in the Department of Education. It was no idle threat, I assure your Lordships, and she had to take charge of the whole operation, and the outcome was a triumph on her part.

At the same time broadcasting involvement was essential. Fortunately, at about that time the heads of the BBC wanted something from me. They came to see me, for a second channel. Well, we negotiated—if you can call it that. The condition that they accepted was an adequate provision of time for the new broadcasting university; and in fact their co-operation was invaluable in those years when it was an entirely new operation, as it has been in all those years since. I think that the university has also been quite useful to the BBC in providing a new area of training for its people.

I am not quite sure of the rules, but perhaps at this point I ought to record, or declare, a family interest. My elder son, who has been a maths don at four Oxford colleges, is an OU lecturer, and over the years he has given me a good deal of evidence that the course there is at least as tough and as difficult as they required for an Oxford degree; and our other son has graduated through the Open University.

The interesting fact is that today there are over 50 such universities all over the world, all modelled on ours, and for many years our balance of payments was fortified by sales of teaching material and, at least for a time, of equipment. Some of the engineering students needed to have engineering equipment and others needed equipment for similar studies. But it is, sadly, on the record that two or three years ago, when they cut back on university finances in our new universities, Her Majesty’s Government at the same time put the brake on so far as the OU was concerned.

I should like to refer to what happened to the British universities. There were big debates in both Houses. In Bradford, for example, all our students in, say, engineering (our main subject), are required to work about a third of their four-year course in British factories or firms. In a few years’ time—and here I am thinking in particular of those who come from the Commonwealth, or further afield—whether as civil servants who have to authorise the import of this or that particular piece of machinery, or whether as industrialists themselves, those former students, as a result of their presence here in this country, working in one British factory or another, may well dictate what equipment they should import.

Now I should like to turn to the Open University. I believe that the recent cuts forced on OU programmes will prove at least as serious as this short-sighted anti-Commonwealth attitude which we have seen developing in other ways and in other parts in recent years. The 1982 financial provision for the OU of £58.7 million has been cut to £58.2 million in 1983. You may say that this is not very much, £58.7 million to £58.2 million. But it is, of course, a much sharper cut than it appears to be because the figures make no allowance for inflation. Again, if we look at student grants, they amounted to £924 in 1980 and, at constant prices, to £814 in 1981. In real terms, they were 13½ per cent. lower. Over four years from 1980 to 1984, the university’s grant from Whitehall has increased by 24 per cent.—yes, thank you very much, certainly—while the retail price index has risen by 42 per cent., or two-four reversed.

The £50-odd million that I have mentioned may seem a large sum, but not if’ one realises that the university teaches three-quarters of the whole nation’s part-time university students. It is not sufficiently appreciated that there are these part-time courses and that three-quarters of them are taken in charge by the university. It is also worth knowing, and the Treasury, which perhaps has some responsibility in this area, ought to be pleased to hear—I hope that it will hear—that the Open University graduate costs the country only a little over half as much as a graduate from a conventional university.

I shall not weary the House with the whole catalogue of cut and cut again. I shall just instance computers. There are two novel and highly successful courses for managers and engineers in industry all over the country, not simply for those who can travel locally to a university. These same managers and engineers in industry have courses dealing with micro-processors and product design and development. It is a fact that already 30,000 engineers and managers have taken these courses through the OU. This year there are 1,100 undergraduates studying the digital computer. There are 2,300 studying the course “Computing and Computers” at a very low cost to the nation. This is a good investment.

Jointly with the Science and Engineering Research Council, itself of high repute, the university is now planning postgraduate courses which will bring working engineers, working scientists and managers up to date in the latest developments in both manufacturing and the industrial application of computers. Current plans are now at risk at the hands of the rather less than imaginative Treasury, which seems to resent the kind of world in which we all live; these threatened plans would provide for 60,000 citizens of this country operating in this field.

To cut these research facilities is, to use an old cliché, selling the seed corn, and this at a time when the university’s own industrial company—yes, it is a limited company—the Open University Educational Enterprise Limited, has handed over nearly £440,000 from interest and profits on its activities. I am sure that my noble friend Lord Perry, who has much more experience of this subject than any of us and who was really the creator of the Open University as we know it today, could confirm and verify with far more authority than I can command the alarming figures I have quoted, these current trends and the threat of more to come. He could estimate, I think, their significance for higher education in the widest sense. The facts show that over the next three years, to 1986, on the plans laid down by the authorities, the university will have to cut expenditure by £13.5 million.

What the statistics will not show are the disappointments and the broken prospects of a generation of students whose potential contributions to British industry and to British inventiveness and competitiveness in a growingly competitive world are being snatched away, from what industry and the education process could provide, by the Treasury, which could not, in my view, in terms of the problems I am describing—I may be a little biased but I have known the Treasury for 40-odd years, and I was First Lord of it once—with any marked success, run a fish and chip shop.

Noble Lords, at least those of my generation—I remind them of this before I sit down—will know the story of the man during the war who, having climbed the Duke of York’s steps and walked along to Whitehall, was asked by a passer-by “Which side is the War Office on?”, eliciting the reply “Ours, I hope”. After what I have described, based on firm and irrefutable facts and figures—there are lots more of them if anyone wants to have them—the need is for more work, more jobs and, if I may say so, more proof that Her Majesty’s Treasury is really fully committed in this war, this most desperate war, that we have in this country today, the war against unemployment.

I wish to conclude by referring briefly to this. During the war, I was involved at the head of a series of Government statistical departments. I have to emphasise—and I would be ready to give reasons for this estimate, perhaps when we debate economic affairs in a different way—that the real unemployment figure for Britain is not 3⅓ million. Not at all; that is a completely phoney figure. The real figure is at least 4⅓ million, if one allows for the fact that school-leavers, for example, have been given great help in the creation of training courses by leading firms. In every speech I make in America or when touring abroad, I always pay tribute to one or two in the constituency that I represented for what they do to create jobs that do not really exist for some of these kids. I am thinking of Messrs. Pilkington, British Insulated Callender’s Cables and our Ford factory. But, of course, if our industry is to flourish, and if we are to keep among the top nations in this new technological revolution, then it is essential that the Government stimulate education for industry.

I had the privilege, as I have said, of working for a time on Winston Churchill’s staff, before he sent me round to other departments to try to get their statistics as he would like to see them—not “cooking” them, but making them credible, understandable and comprehensible. Winston Churchill—there are many here who knew him better than I did—was undoubtedly a humanist. He did a great deal for people who were unattached to him. If he or Clement Attlee were alive today, if either was in charge, I can just imagine that a battery of brief and pungent directives would be flying around Whitehall headed “Action this day”. Many in this House have seen or received and shuddered when they got those documents, as I did. However, on youth unemployment, on stagnation in industry and on training for industry, I am certain that their message would have been “Action now” to stir our people and, above all, the younger generation to genuinely satisfying work and to training facilities that anticipate economic needs and opportunities of the remaining years of this century.

Is it too much to ask that the same power and sense of direction be now applied in our training and education systems, and in a relevant attack upon the factors that are producing youth unemployment, through the provision of adequate, however varied, educational opportunities on which not only the future of those children, the future citizens, depend, but on which the future of Britain herself in the next half century will most certainly depend?

Harold Wilson – 1970 Speech to Labour Party Conference


Below is the text of the speech made by Harold Wilson, the then Leader of the Opposition, to the Labour Party conference in October 1970.

Last year this Conference met in the spirit of pride and confidence. Pride in five years’ achievements in transforming our society. Confidence in the more rapid advance which lay before us once crippling economic deficit had given place to economic strength. This year our task is to resist those who seek to halt and to reverse those achievements, who seek to turn back.

18 June should not be seen simply in terms of a rejection of one set of men, of one Party, of the replacement of one Government by another. It was the rejection of a system of society based on a set of values of which our people are proud, but which our opponents discounted as they preached their philosophy of greed. All that is yours, they said, all that you dream of achieving will still be yours, but you won’t have to pay for it. The taxes on what you earn will be cut. There will no longer be a problem of rising prices. Their cynical conclusion was that enough of the electorate would be prepared to place at risk all the Labour Government have achieved for the better and fairer education of our children, for dignity and civilised standards in old age or sickness; all we have done to help the casualties of modern industrial society, to create a fairer and more equal society, in return for the lure held out by the Tories, the lure of increased spending power.

Their cynicism was vindicated not so much by those who voted but by those who did not trouble to vote.

Now our task, above all others, in the months ahead is to overcome that cynicism by making clear the values in which we believe, by convincing our people that only by our Socialist policies can those ideals be achieved.

It means exposing the emptiness of those Tory promises as time reveals that emptiness; it means a determined fight for our principles as others proclaim the doctrines of selfishness and sectional advantage.

It means fighting to preserve the concept of the national community, caring for all, and willing to share, against those who have reck­lessly embarked on a course of dividing our people, of promoting conflict and exalting personal advantage.

How we are to do that must be, the keynote of this Conference, the task of this Movement, starting now.

First we must expose what has happened in the three months since the General Election. Contrary to the promises they held out of immediate action to change the direction of our Government and our society, we have had – as even the Conservative press are beginning to bear witness – a period in which Government, action, decision, have been at a discount.

This is not to say that in the first heady days no decisions were taken. There was, indeed, that short burst of ‘instant’ ideological arrogance. Three decisions within three days before the Cabinet had even met.

Sir Alec Foster-Dulles searching for Com­munists on the Indian Ocean bed and concluding that the threat must be met by shipping arms to Apartheid South Africa. The Governess of the Board of Education reversing the trend of a generation of educational thought and advance by giving encouragement and fresh hope to reactionary Tory education authorities in their fight to maintain the 11-plus. The decision to put council houses on the market and diminish the stock of immediately-needed accommodation for the overcrowded and the unhoused.

And very soon thereafter the decision to abolish the Land Commission: values created by the community no longer to accrue to the community: values created by the community were now to enrich the speculative developer.

Instant decision when it was a question of pandering to Tory prejudice.

Indecision, procrastination when problems had to be faced up to.

That was why after that first week they pulled the blankets over their heads and hoped the problems would go away. The only recorded case in zoology of hibernation in the summer.

This from a Government whose Leader’s final clarion election call was: ‘Britain is in danger of falling asleep.’

From a Leader who two days before polling day outlined a policy to be ‘pursued immed­iately.’ Immediately. An instant economic policy to be carried out at one stroke.

Now, a hundred days on, even the Tory press has had to admit what everyone else knows, and most people are saying, that Britain has no government. There’s been nothing like it since the Hans Andersen story when the populace turned out to see the whole imperial establishment parade through the streets – only this time it is the clothes that have no Emperor.

Though no words of mine could rival the for-once attributable briefing by a Downing Street spokesman recorded in the Financial Times a few weeks ago: ‘The Government is in the back seat but it is watching the driving mirror to see what others are doing.’

By mid-August Conservative papers were appealing for reassurance that a government existed. Even the Daily Sketch ran a panic headline: ‘Reassure us, Ted.’

And even now, he hasn’t. For what they have discovered is that the mess they are in is the promises they made, promises they cannot keep, promises they knew they would

not be able to keep when they made them.

It is right that what they then promised must be set on the record. Kept on the record, for now we face a massive nation-wide brain­washing operation aimed at persuading you that what you heard them say is not what they now want you to think they said.

They were going to act. The emphasis in that last pre-election week was on immediate action, at a stroke to reduce the rise in prices, increase production and reduce unemploy­ment. They are his words. It’s in the book.

A Better Tomorrow. On TV last week he was asked by Mr. Burnett after three months, ‘When is tomorrow?’ ‘Well,’ he said, ‘we are working towards it all the time.’ We are working towards tomorrow all the time. Watchman, what of the night -and how long will it be?

That wasn’t the pre-election mood.

Sir Alec Douglas-Home, I quote: ‘In the first month of a new Conservative Government, taxation will be reduced. That would do more than anything to release energies.’ He can be dismissed from the case. Economics were never his strong suit.

But what of his Leader, the present Prime Minister? Last week was not his first interview with Mr. Burnett. Before the election Mr. Heath gave a firm pledge to him – to the electorate – that they would abolish S.E.T. and they would cut direct taxation in the first budget. Now, apparently, no budget till April: no sense of urgency, still less emergency there. That’s not what they said in that last week of the election. Already immediate action ruled out.

But now they are hedging even about their budget policy when finally they are forced to introduce one. S.E.T. not to be abolished. Reduced maybe – but not yet. Mr. Robert Carr was put up last month to say that the present Government unfortunately could not ‘make progress with expansion and the reduc­tion of taxation to which the Government is pledged, till we have got this present cost inflation spiral under control.’ Mr. Barber was reported as confirming this. But what his Leader said on 16 June was that cutting taxes, and especially S.E.T., was the immediate way to ‘break into the price/wage spiral by acting directly on prices and costs,’ to give us a ‘breathing-space’ while long-term policies were being worked out.

I am not in fact today going to embark on a considered attack on the Conservative Govern­ment’s economic policy, because I don’t know what it is – any more than they do.

A government whose leader pledged himself in the Manifesto to deal ‘honestly and openly with the House of Commons, with the Press and with the public’ relies not on open straight talk, but on closed, anonymous hints behind cupped hands.

Mr. Heath and Mr. Barber will not deny that the message they are putting out on taxes is this:

No immediate action. No abolition of S.E.T. in the first budget;

In fact no decreases in taxation until they’ve made those sweeping cuts in public expenditure, the mighty promise of which always set those Tory audiences ablaze;

Cuts in expenditure or not, they can’t cut taxes until they’ve broken the wage-spiral.

The whole public discussion of Tory economic strategy has now been reduced to a plaintive barnyard soliloquy by the unfortunate Secretary of State for Employment and Productivity about which came first, the hen or the egg. And the price of both is going up under the Tories.

But they are not even pretending now that they have a policy for prices, at any rate for stopping them rising. True, the repeated assertion that they had is precisely what won the election. Morning, noon and night. I recall that moving appeal the Conservative Leader made to the housewives of Leicester.

Someone had given him a shopping list. Bread, how dear that was. And, oh dear, it’s going up again. Milk – what price does he now think that will be when the better tomorrow dawns? He revealed the most intimate secrets of his larder, jam, sausages, the lot. He wept that the housewives were telling him that they had to go for the cheaper cuts of meat, buying standard eggs instead of large ones.

Oh yes, and he mourned that the dinner money at school takes more out of her purse. Strangely I haven’t yet read that school meals have become cheaper under the Tories. But let me put this question to Mr. Heath. (Cap’n, art thou sleeping there below?). Since I know he would not wish his speech to the Leicester housewives to be dismissed as vulgarian vote-getting, will he just reassure them now by giving a pledge, for what that is now worth, that the review of public expenditure they have announced will not involve an increase in the price of school meals?

But it was not only in Leicester. To make assurance doubly sure, there was his firm pledge of immediate action on all prices, private sector and public sector, issued with a blaze of publicity, by coincidence just two days before polling-day. In view of the organised attempt to bury this effusion – well, it is being said, after all, Mr. Heath didn’t actually write it, it was written for him – I feel it right that so superb a passage of English prose should not be allowed incontinently to be swept into oblivion. In other words I’m going to read it.

But there is a very real alternative which ought to be pursued immediately. That alternative is to break into the price/wage spiral by acting directly to reduce prices. This can be done by reducing those taxes which bear directly on prices and costs such as the Selective Employment Tax, and by taking a fain grip on public sector prices and charges, such as coal, steel, gas, electricity charges and postal charges. This would at a stroke, reduce the rise in prices, increase production and reduce unemployment. It would have an immediate effect on moderating the wage/price spiral which would far outweight any effects of a higher pressure in demand for labour.

‘Immediate,’ ‘at a stroke.’ He went on: ‘In this way we can obtain a breathing space which must be well used to put our industrial relations on a sound footing … to cut direct taxation and to encourage savings…’ And so forth.

In other words, this was to be done at once.

And in case any one had missed the point he concluded with the choice which in his view the country was facing: whether to continue with a Labour Government, or (I quote) ‘Whether it would prefer immediate and determined action to avert such a crisis.’ Well, we haven’t had it. The crisis. Or the action.

One action he was going to take was to hold prices down artificially in the public sector. We warned him at the time that that would mean Treasury subsidies, and they would mean not lower taxes but very much higher taxes. The Treasury soon told him.

So we had a short period in which Ministers fell over themselves to raise charges in the public sector, even when it wasn’t necessary. One was in the field of public transport. In the election, of course, we had had his doleful forecast, in due course, if Labour were returned, of a minimum fare of a shilling for short journeys on bus or tube. A shilling minimum. It may be a surprise to him, but this took effect on 16th August, just two months after he came into office: the shilling minimum fare was imposed. By the Tory Greater London Council.

Labour had refused to approve it and sent it for impartial enquiry by the Prices and Incomes Board.

The Tory Government, in an unaccustomed fit of exertion, approved it.

For good measure, when it came to half-price fares, the Conservative Government further approved a new break-through in the higher Conservative duodecimal mathematics, based on the inflationary principle that half of one shilling is sevenpence.

But the Tories said, public sector prices would be scrutinised with vigilance. Not though, to protect the consumer.

When Mr. Heath saw Mr. Victor Feather we got the real threat: publicly-owned industries would be starved of finance, and subject to rigid price control, not to protect the consumer but as a sanction to enforce a wage policy selectively directed against public employees.

Before Parliament adjourned they told us of their Policy for the private sector. There was to be no further use of the Prices and Incomes Board to deal with excessive price demands; the early warning system for price increases was to go.

Then we got this pearl from Mr. Robert Carr: ‘We believe that where there is competition that is the most effective means of safe­guarding the consumer, and the less it is interfered with the better.’

So you must thank all the gods of competi­tion, and Mr. Carr, their earthly spokesman, for the safeguards you are privileged to enjoy against price rises by private enterprise which led first the oil companies, then the tobacco industry, the bakers, the cement industry, to put up their prices.

But you should be so lucky. The safe­guards didn’t stop there. A fortnight ago the country was electrified by an announcement that the early warning system, and the agreed system of price-control for the brewing industry, were to be abrogated. This was announced by Farmer Prior who, although he can claim a higher degree of sophistication per live-hundredweight than most of his colleagues, decided that he could not improve on the words of Mr. Carr. ‘Where there is competition that is the .most effective means of safeguarding the consumer, and the less it is interfered with the better.’

I cannot tell you how thirsty dockers in my constituency, tears dropping into their tankards, blessed the name of Prior: nor of their mortification the next day when they read in their Daily Telegraph the headline: ‘4d.-a-pint beer rise forecast,’ for in beer as in bread, the mills of competition grind slowly. But they were happy to read in the City page of their Daily Mail the following Tuesday, with what joy the news had been received in the brewery-shares section of the Stock Exchange.

For even this period of inert government has enabled me to acquit the Conservatives of a charge I have sometimes heard, that they lack care and compassion. I was reluctant to believe this because we had that election broadcast of theirs, when Mr. Chataway said: ‘I care – and Ted cares too.’

They lost no time in showing that care when approached by the bankrupt brewers. Indeed I must in fairness to them, record another case, the deep concern shown by the Minister of Housing and Local Government when he overruled the report, made by the inspector after a public inquiry, and decided a planning case on behalf of a major brewery company not 20 miles from here.

Not content with falling over themselves to allow private enterprise to raise its prices, the next step was to encourage them to do it.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer, whose appointment is the only thing Mr. Heath has ever done to suggest that he has a sense of humour, will not be disposed to dispute the source of the message which one paper after another simultaneously felt moved to announce a fortnight ago.

The headline in the Guardian: ‘Tories to let prices go free.’ In the Daily Telegraph: ‘Price rises to rebuild working capital in order.’ ‘Companies may raise prices with tacit Gov­ernment blessing.’

The Times: ‘The shortage of company liquidity is acknowledged; and it is argued that the solution lies in raising prices where this is necessary for maintaining profits, investments and working capital.’

‘The solution lies in raising prices.’

Three months to the day after that dramatic promise of immediate and direct action to break the price/wage spiral, the Government had decided that they had so little to offer their industrial friends in fulfilment of their promises to reduce taxation on industry – on top of all the other pledges to reduce taxation – that their only solution to deal with the prob­lem of the squeeze on liquidity, the problem of cash flow in industry, was to encourage industrialists to get on with it, to put up prices and get more money for them­selves.

So now we know. A Government elected precisely because of its pledges to tackle rising prices insists now that in private enterprise prices are not high enough.

A Government elected after accusing its Labour predecessor of planning to hold down wages, has embarked now on deliberate action to hold wages down, starting with the weakest and lowest paid. And this at a time of free-for-all in prices.

The Government’s strategy has now emerged.

It is a strategy first of distraction. To dis­tract the country from the Government’s failure by putting all the blame for their econ­omic difficulties, not on their own irresponsible election promises, but on the trade unions and their members. And in shifting the blame, to use the whole power of Government in enforc­ing a policy of selective interference with wages, to the point where the costly and bitter disputes they were elected to avoid are not only to be allowed to happen, but actively provoked.

It is a strategy, second, of ostentatious in­difference to the modernisation of industry, and the needs of the development areas, by discard­ing priority industrial and regional projects.

It is a strategy, third, of re-shaping public expenditure on principles which pre-date the welfare state, and by methods which must inevitably destroy the welfare state as we know it today.

First, the policy of a deliberate show-down with organised labour. The Government standing aside when their intervention is necessary to avert or end a dispute, in the private sector; the Government acting as provocateur in wage negotiations in the public sector.

In the private sector, denying conciliation where conciliation is needed. Deciding that fifty years of conciliation are to be set aside. That the Secretary of State’s job was to be that of a querulous referee who conceives it as his function to stand on the touch-line selectively throwing his bottles at just one set of players.

This and his discriminatory wages policy against the public sector, miners, nurses, railwaymen, probation officers, teachers, manual workers in Government employment. Ministers who have talked of anarchy are hell-bent on intensifying anarchy. Those who have talked of disputes are dedicated to pro­voking them.

There is one clear and definite message on which this Conference has already shown its determination.

The Tories are not going to be allowed to divide one section of our national community from another. To resist the Tories is one thing, and determination to resist is unequivocal. But we all recognise the clear responsibility on this Movement: I mean this Movement, industrial and political. For when doctrinaire Tory measures have been beaten back we shall have the responsibility of showing to the country that, together, we are capable of working out an effective approach for dealing with problems that confront, not this country alone, but every modern industrial society. A policy for full employment based on stability of values and the protection of those within our com­munity least able to help themselves.

This eluded us before because in 1964 we came to office in the middle of urgent and immediate problems which never gave us the time and the opportunity to work out the necessary approach. Now we have the time and together we must use it to find a way. It is not a question of formal declarations or treaties. It is a question rather of expressing our common purpose.

That cannot be made explicit until, between us, we can set out a climate in which that purpose can alone operate. And it is to define and fashion that climate as well as to agree on our mutual responsibilities, that the future work and co-operation of this Movement must be directed.

And putting back the clock in industrial relations is matched by the second part of the strategy, a reversion to the law of ruthless profit-seeking in industry, regardless of national or regional priorities.

The law of the market, which recognises only profit, however earned, the balance-sheet to be paramount, ignoring the economic or social claims of employment, of export, of the development of Britain’s productive resources.

If the policies they have decided to follow had been adopted by us, the Upper Clyde would not have been saved.

Cammell Laird’s – now busy with new orders – would have closed; there would have been no British-owned computer industry, and the last section of the indigenous British motor-car industry would before long have passed into American ownership.

We are told that investment grants are to go, investment allowances are to take their place – rewarding those that have profits to show, denying new industries and firms, however enterprising, who need a start.

This is not economic policy. It is economic abdication. The assertion of Government, of community responsibility, whether for the strength of our economy or the welfare of our people, is to give place to a new concentration of power, where the take-over bidder, the financial entrepreneur holds sway, regardless of what is produced, regardless of the decay of proud regions, the welfare of their workers, the opportunities for their children.

And the third element in their strategy is the re-shaping of Government social expendi­ture, not on new priorities, but on the old priorities; on which until this year, all parties had turned their backs.

If a phrase was coined that I regret it was ‘Yesterday’s Men.’ Why did we have to use that flattery? Yesterday is modernity compared with those who now seek their inspiration in the golden days before World War One – golden for some. Selsdon Man, gagged and muted throughout the election, has now become Selsdon Minister. Remember how we warned that these men would take us back – in the social services back to pre-Beveridge; back in housing to pre-Wheatley; back in health to pre-Bevan. When I warned that they would seek to introduce the concept of first-and second-class status within the Health Service – the test being ability to pay – I was indignantly contradicted by Mr. Heath.

I warn them that if they lay their hands on all that has been built up by the British people, by this Movement, then whatever their mask of cold indifference and doctrinaire arrogance, the fight we shall put up by day and by night against their legislation will make even the battles they had to fight to get the Rent Act through seem mild by comparison.

We all of us in this Party, in this Movement, have the right to make that warning explicit. We are proud of the achievements of the first post-war Labour Government in creating in those years of unparalleled difficulty, the Welfare State, the Health Service, that great advance in education, and low rent housing.

We are proud of the record of countless members of local authorities over a generation, bringing to the legislation passed by Parliament the warmth, humanity and compassion of people nurtured in socialism and social ideals.

We are proud of our record over the past six years, when once again we did not allow crippling economic difficulties to daunt us, of the years in which we almost doubled the provision for our social services, health, housing, education and the attack on poverty.

It is because of what the Labour Govern­ment achieved that over this past year – indeed this was one of the great themes of the last Conference – all of us recognised and stressed that more and more must be done for the forgotten members of our society. The men­tally handicapped, including very particularly the mentally handicapped children. The problem of shelter and care in old age, the creation of a real equality of opportunity in education, not only at 11 but at 18. So much had been done, so much more still remained to do. For the first time we had been able to create an economic base on which we could build.

I warn this Conference, as earlier I sought to warn the country, what irresponsible Tory financial promises must mean for our great national social services, and the essential local services dependent upon national provision. They are failing to get even a fraction of the expenditure cuts they had said would be so easy. That is why I must warn at once about the danger of Tory action this autumn to cut back the real value of Government provision for all the wide range of local social services.

The biennial Rate Support Grant has to be determined before the end of the year and secure Parliamentary approval. Of small importance that the record provision made in 1968 was attacked by Mr. Heath as being too small, when he thought there were votes in such an attack – that implied pledge goes the way of all the rest.

Now we shall have the Conservative Government blindly swinging their axe. The more severely they cut down necessary provision, then the more will local authorities, at a time when so many are Conservative-led, be tempted to cut and slash essential services to avoid still further loading the rates over and above what will be forced upon them by declared Conservative policies.

And it is as these Councils balance essen­tially inadequate central finance with their desire to keep rates as low as possible that the temptation will be upon them, a temptation they are not the men to resist, to economise and pare on all those items of local government expenditure which are the characteristic of a civilised society – what they no doubt will call the frills – what we consider the means to a better and fairer Britain.

The irresponsible promises of the Tories have brought upon them, and upon Britain, the problems I have described.

And this applies with equal force to the policies for Southern Africa. Recall how this began. Sir Alec told the press his firm decision, our embargo on arms for South Africa would be revoked. But when he was confronted by us in Parliament it was a different story. All he was doing was consulting the Common­wealth. There has been no decision. There would be no decision before Parliament resumed in the autumn.

But then there was the strange case of Mr. Heath. He refused to publish the message he had sent to the Commonwealth, of which, for greater accuracy, I had obtained a copy. However, the Prime Minister of Canada pub­lished his own reply in which he referred to Mr. Heath’s message as a ‘decision.’ Nothing like dealing honestly and directly with Parlia­ment, the press and the public, not to mention the Commonwealth.

We warned him over the Springbok tour, over his policies for South Africa and Rhodesia. We warned him that his policies would endanger any hopes of a rational policy on equal community relations, regardless of race or colour. Those warnings were con­temptuously ignored.

It is my clear duty this morning, not to repeat them, but to reinforce them by saying what the policy of the next Government will be.

It is important that, in default of the present Government, someone must assert that, in these matters, Britain stands and always will stand on the side of the eternal decencies.

If the Conservatives, for whatever reason – be it an unwillingness to reverse the instant, ideological government of Sir Alec Douglas-Home, be it the pressures of the Monday Club, the Powellites – if they decide to spurn the Commonwealth, indeed to risk its very existence, by a decision to sell arms to South Africa, then whatever contracts they may sign will be repudiated by an incoming Labour Government at the next Election. Any ship­ments arising from them will be embargoed. And let me warn them about any manoeuvrings designed to tie our hands. We have seen before how they were able to turn a commercial agreement into an enforceable international treaty. If for ideological reasons they clothe these indefensible contracts with the enforce­ability of a treaty, then let them know that a Labour Government will accept no treaty which is in conflict with the decision of the United Nations, our membership of which, our commitment to whose decisions, were themselves enshrined in a treaty which we have regarded and always will regard as bind­ing on the individual decisions of Government. I hope that this will help Mr. Heath, despite himself, to be able to attend a full meeting of the Commonwealth in Singapore next January. But should he ignore these warnings, I want to make this appeal to our Common­wealth friends.

I know how you feel on this issue. You feel as we do.

You know that this is a matter not of a few millions on the balance sheet.

That recognising this and knowing how the heart of Britain really beats on this question, that you do not leave the Commonwealth, which I believe to be one of the greatest forces not only for international co-operation but for international decision in the years ahead. Bite on the Tory bit and realise that there will again be a Britain with a different conception of Commonwealth leadership.

Rhodesia too.

I recall the equivocation of the Tory leader­ship over the years since U.D.I. Not that there were even votes in it, but the Tory leadership had to move very close to appease­ment of a racialist regime in order to keep within their ranks the racialist extremists who never fail to assert their power when they recognise that they are faced with a leadership lacking in moral fibre on these fundamental matters of principle.

Again the future of the Commonwealth is at stake, a derisory consideration perhaps, when with a Parliamentary majority of thirty, they are facing the hard-liners of the Monday Club.

They have said, it is on the record, that there will be no agreement on a legal independence except on the basis of the five prin­ciples which we laid down. All Parties in this country are committed to them: History will not forgive, nor shall we tolerate a settlement based on the racialist principles of the police-state, now near-fascist regime in Rhodesia.

But, Mr. Chairman, the overseas issue which will dominate the life and work of this parliament, will be the decision that has to be taken about Britain’s application to join the European Economic Community. A decision which has to be taken when the Brussels negotiations reach a point where Parliament and the country can measure and assess the advantages and the costs.

This is not the time for decision.

Last year at Conference I pointed out that Britain’s application had been made, approved by Parliament, approved by Conference, three years ago. Few, if any, were proposing a reversal of that decision. The question was, what terms for entry.

The main change since last year has been the physical opening of the negotiations, though there have also been changes and developments within the Community itself which will have an important bearing on the terms of Britain’s entry. It is too early to judge what the terms will be.

I have not changed my view, although I respect the view of many here who think differently, that providing we can get the right terms, entry will be advantageous for Britain. A country which depends as much as Britain for our exports to world markets must face the fact that the three principal markets into which we trade are for one reason and another being more and more rigged and systematised and certainly not to our advantage.

The North American market, in which these past two years has seen such great success for British exports, is becoming more and more subject to a fever of protectionism against which it was our duty to warn suc­cessive Presidents. I have small doubt that these warnings have been repeated by those who now have the responsibility.

The Commonwealth. Some of us on entering office had high hopes that we could reverse the downward trend in trade within the Commonwealth, and at Commonwealth Conference after Confer­ence I sought to establish meetings of trade Ministers and by other means to get agree­ment on means to increase Commonwealth trade.

But we have to face the fact here that some of our biggest Commonwealth trading partners are more and more integrating their economies with those of their neighbours, Australia with Japan and the countries of South-East Asia; Canada more and more with her neighbour, and also with the Caribbean and South America; we have had disappointments in Commonwealth countries in Africa and a growing number of these have been making their own arrangements with the European Common Market.

And that third great area, the vast European market, is the subject of tight and cohesive trading rules which are made by others, with no British participation. The problem here is not only the rules of that increasingly inte­grated community. There is a problem, too, of the growth of the large multi-national com­pany or trust whose interests and loyalties transcend national boundaries, and who make their own rules. The European Corporation is becoming a reality even if so many of the Europe-wide companies, in motors, in com­puters, in electronics, are in fact American dominated and controlled.

It is to face this challenge that we have seen the growth of the huge mergers in British industry with economic and industrial and social consequences which we have not yet fully learned how to meet – another great question on the agenda of our future work.

If the terms which emerge from the nego­tiations are such as to impose a crippling and unacceptable burden on our balance of pay­ments and our social structure, I should be the first to say that these terms must be rejected. But we have to recognise that the right terms would give us a greater power of participation in the decisions which will in­creasingly dominate world industry.

Last year I said that Britain’s growing strength meant that if the terms were right we need not fear the sharper competition which entry would mean; that we could indeed benefit from the new opportunities British industry would have.

But equally, I said that if the terms were wrong, we had by our own efforts, our own restraint, our own self-discipline, created for ourselves the strength to stand on our own feet outside the Community.

I believe that is still true, though we shall watch anxiously how far the irresponsible men now in power in this country fritter away that strength by pursuing false economic objectives and by their policy of dividing – where we did so much to unite – our nation.

Unlike the situation eight years ago, had it been a Labour Government which secured entry into the Common Market in the present negotiations, it would not have been out of crippling weakness but out of confident strength. That strength must not now be dissipated.

But if our warnings about this fall on deaf ears there is one argument we will not accept – we heard it before – that, whatever the terms, we have to go in because we are too weak to stay out.

Between 1964 and 1970 the Labour Govern­ment brought Britain through to a position of economic strength. But the political effects of the very measures we had to use have denied to us – for a time – the opportunity to follow through. The opportunity to use that strength we had created, to intensify and accelerate the creation of a better and fairer Britain.

For how often have all of us said that economic strength is not an end in itself. It is a means, but a necessary means, to the realisation of everything this Movement stands for. That was the message seven years ago at Scarborough. The message that Socialism must be used to harness, control, humanise, civilise the speed of the new technological revolution. The Scarborough programme for modernising and reorganising industry, and providing for those who suffered through change, was becoming a reality under the Labour Government, forced through against those who, while not resisting change, de­manded that the direction and force of that change should be dictated by private interests, for private ends.

If the Labour Government had not been pushing the Scarborough programme through, this country by now would have slipped out of the mainstream of technological and econ­omic advance with all the harmful and social consequences this neglect and abdication would have involved. But if Scarborough was right and necessary for its time, we must recognise that time has moved forward and that Britain must move forward with it. There are new problems now, and tomorrow will bring other problems of whose scope and nature we can only be partly aware. The Socialism of the Labour Party possesses the only approach to match and conquer those problems. We must begin planning now within this Party to create the apparatus which will make that approach a reality.

For our experience of the Scarborough pro­gramme has taught us this. First, that the sheer implications of economic and social change imposed by the speed of modern science and industrial technique are such that their planning and control need to be not less wide than we attempted, but wider. That the planning cannot be related to the arbitrary lifetime of a single Parliament only. That we have to have our vision of the Britain of the nineteen-eighties and ’nineties to be able to plan the measures of the ’seventies.

And the second lesson is this. The very facts I have just mentioned about the aggregation of power in vast national and international economic groupings underline the need for a continued assertion of the protection of the increasingly helpless individual against the demands of increasingly ruthless and remote economic, power.

Man has to work, in order to consume. He is not a free being simply because society gives him more alternative ways of spending the money he earns, if he becomes less free in how he earns it. Man does not live by the monthly index of retail sales alone.

But, and this is the third challenge to modern society, to industrial frustrations are added a wider dimension, going far beyond the dictates of the production-line. The dimension of man in his environment. And here I do not mean only the social costs of technical advance, the pollution of the air and water, and the countryside.

The problem of the environment is psycho­logical as well as physical. You can pollute a man’s soul, a child’s dreams, just as you can poison the water and the air around him, if every decision affecting his future is taken by more and more remote, less and less account­able beings. And if technological advance dic­tates that more and more decisions are taken, whether in public or private enterprise, at stages further and further from the point where the work is done, then a modern conception of Government means a greater, not a smaller, degree of concern and protection for the man and woman at the point where the work is done.

Government’s task, Parliament’s task, is not only to ensure the accountability of economic decisions: it is to ensure that those affected by these decisions are first consulted and then safeguarded. Three months have dramatised the essential difference between a Labour Government and its successors. The Labour Government insisted that if the coal, industry had to suffer from technological change, the men affected must be given protection and economic security. As a matter of course we brought a Bill before Parliament last June to continue that protection. After three months of vacillation and hesitancy, and despite the urgent insistence of all of us, that Bill has not yet been reintroduced, nor solid assurances given that in the form we laid down, it will be.

When a shipyard was in danger of closure under the Tories, the Tory Minister’s message was: ‘You’re out on your own.’ Palmer’s Yard closed this weekend. But the challenge goes far beyond the loss of work and security. Those who seek to deal with the problems of modern industry by repression and appeals to law and order fail to get at the underlying frustration. Frustration for the individual.

When we hear learned and self-righteous individuals who have forgotten even what it was to be young, condemning modern youth, they fail to understand the frustration of young, people lost or trapped in the blind alleys of modern industrial society. Or students who, questioning the basis of the system of indus­trial recruitment or the big brother dossiers, will fight any attempt to transform a free university into an adjunct of industrialism. It is frightened men, and men out of touch, who seek to fight the student frustration by repression alone, without understanding.

It’s a frightened and unthinking act, not a confident act, that is inspired by the belief that you can deal with our student problem by sending a sick student out of the country. Law, yes. Order, yes, but these are comple­ments to, not a substitute for attacking the conditions which give rise to the problem. The break-out in advanced but uncaring societies of black power, as men condemned for gener­ations to helotry on no basis other than the colour of their skin, turn to violence – and are exploited by others who can turn violence to their own ends.

There are other frustrations too. The frus­trations of working men and women on the factory floor, who see vast changes taking place around them but are scarcely able to influence the forces which dictate the course of their lives. The frustration of office workers and technicians who feel that big power-blocs are elbowing them aside, so that they must cling on to their living standards by their finger­tips.

It is for Labour to reunite these sections of the community. It is for us to strengthen the power of the community and make it relevant to the needs of the new decade.

The worker is hostile to the student, grumb­ling that his income tax goes to pay for their demonstrations. The rumbling against immigrants goes on, wherever social conditions create tensions. We must condemn violent demonstrations. We must condemn with all the vehemence in our power the manifesta­tions of Powellism. It is not so much that the Powellites have exploited fear and hatred, or even that they have created fear and hatred in order to exploit them. They were exploiting a vacuum. They were taking up a cause – how­ever venomous that cause – because there were so many who, due to the conditions in which they worked, the conditions in which they lived, felt that they had no one to give them a lead, no one with whom they could identify. But we must not make the mistake of dis­carding as beneath our notice the human beings involved in these confrontations. Ugly emotions are the outcome of false hostilities created by social conditions it is our duty to transform.

We must convince all these groups – factory workers, office workers, technicians, immigrants, students, that their interests are not in conflict but in common, and can be served only by their combining together to support Labour’s implementation of Socialist policies.

In the explanations offered last June we became familiar with the word ‘volatility.’ It wasn’t volatility in the sense of something flashy and insubstantial. It was closer to cynicism, in the case of tens of thousands of our fellow citizens, sullenness, a feeling that political battles had nothing for them. A Parliamentary colleague has told me of a block of old and substantial municipal flats in his constituency, where the total poll was thirty per cent. You’re all the same, he was told, whoever’s in power – and they might have meant in Parliament, they might have meant in the Council – they haven’t fixed my drain, or got rid of the damp.

The task of our Socialism is to make Parlia­ment a reality to people who feel that nobody cares. This of itself is a condemnation of a new Government which is resolved – if irresolute on all else – to narrow the area of Parliamentary concern, whether in an economic system which leaves the vital decisions to the irresponsible and the unaccountable, or in social affairs where matters of social concern are to become primarily matters of personal provision, regardless of the power to provide.

It is for us in this Movement to challenge that negativism, and to provide the answer to it. To show that man need not be a dwarf in the shadow of his own means of livelihood. To prove that Parliament and local democracy can be made relevant to people’s lives – work­ing lives, family lives – through a Socialism which connects their lives with the mechanisms which dominate them and the decisions which determine them.

The Conservatives say that ‘You’re out on your own.’ That Government must contract and withdraw, only holding the ring while the giant corporations make decisions in their own interests. They call this individualism. But it is the death of individualism.

The individual identity, the rights of a man and his family can only be restored and enhanced if individuals join together to con­trol the apparatus they have created.

This is Socialism. This is why, if Socialism had never been thought of before, it would now have to be invented. This is why the Socialism of the Labour Party is more relevant and more needed now than ever before.

We are now at the start of a Parliament – a Parliament in which the electorate have decided that we are to carry out the role of Opposition.

We shall do our job, and do it vigorously. But while we must always be a party of protest, the last six years have proved that we are now also a party of Government.

We must begin preparing now for the day when the people of Britain decide that they want to take the Government of the country back into their own hands.

This Conference is that beginning.

Harold Wilson – 1965 Labour Party Conference Speech


Below is the text of the speech made by the then Prime Minister, Harold Wilson, to Labour Party Conference in Blackpool in 1965.

Mr. Chairman and fellow delegates, I present to Conference the Parliamentary Report. The delegates here, and those whom we represent here today, were responsible by their unremitting and dedicated efforts for the election to Parliament, for the first time for 13 years, of a Labour majority. And it is entirely right and fitting that in the name of that Labour majority I should today report back to you. In every phase of the tough year through which we have gone, we have never for one moment forgotten those who put us there, the ideals for which they fought, the sacrifices they have made: for every one of us realises that not one of us would be in Parliament today as a result of his own efforts, but that we are there as representing a determined people.

When the country voted a year ago, it was not just a decision to replace one group of men and women by another, as in the long history of ‘ins’ and ‘outs’ which characterised an earlier phase of our Parliamentary history. The country took a decision. It was a decision for a New Britain, for a more positive and purposeful Britain – a Britain in which our economic resources would be planned and mobilised for the welfare of the British people as a whole – yes – but more than that, for the strengthening of Britain’s influence in the world. It was a decision that our latent economic strength, measured not in terms of industrial buildings, and plant and machinery, but in terms of the innate skills and energies of our people, should be purposefully developed year by year, in fulfilment of an economic and social plan – and not contemptuously and fitfully organised on a stop-go-stop cycle directed less to Britain’s strength and wellbeing than to the electoral success of the Party of privilege. It was a decision that the economic strength, which has so long lain dormant and only partially realised, should be used to build a New Britain – a Britain that cares – a Britain that rejects the distortion which Tory policies and Tory philosophies had created. It was a decision – last October – springing from a sense of frustration – of shame even, at a distortion of our society which had come to exalt private gain and purely material affluence and which had sacrificed to that scramble for material affluence the social priorities – social affluence as opposed to private affluence – which is the hallmark of a civilised society.

It was a decision that the old closed circle of opportunity based on family connections and school connections should go and should yield place to a land of opportunity for every boy and girl – for every man and woman – equal opportunity in our schools, equal opportunity to the right to higher education in all its forms, equal opportunity for the keen and thrusting and trained men and women in industry to get to the top. It was a decision that not only our industrial system, but every aspect of our national life that has been corrupted by the doctrine of a self-perpetuating establishment, should give way to an open society where knowing your job would mean more than knowing the right people.

It was a decision that national purpose should override sectional interests and that just as social good should take priority over private gain, so earning money should take precedence over making money. It was a decision for change, not change for its own sake, but change, radical and dynamic, for economic and social purpose. It was a decision that this second industrial revolution (which Harold Collison has just referred to) should be tempered with a humanity that was lacking from the first industrial revolution, a lack indeed that led to the creation of this Labour Movement.

It was a decision, in short, that Britain should have a government and that that government should govern.

For Britain for a long period before the last election had had no government. Whatever limited ideals and policies had animated the incoming Tory Government of 1951, had long ago lost their fire. The Conservative Government had remained in office in a posture of almost total abdication, content to leave the basic decisions that affected Britain’s economic life to the irresponsible and faceless controllers and manipulators of the centres of economic power. And drift and lack of purpose at home had led to drift and lack of purpose abroad.

It was this abdication, this refusal either to take the decisions that had to be taken, or to make way for those who would; it was this sacrifice of decision to electoral manipulation that more than anything else created the formidable problems which have dominated the past 12 months – the first year of this new Labour Government.

One thing I think, Mr. Chairman, you will allow me to say.

For nearly a year now, Britain has had a government, prepared to tell the nation the facts, prepared to talk in the gritty accents of reality, to tell the nation what had to be done, and unafraid to take the decisions that have to be taken, regardless of their short-run political popularity or any long-run electoral considerations.

We said it would not be easy. We said, in the spirit of the imperishable philosophy of Nye Bevan, first proclaimed here in Blackpool, that our actions would be governed by the language of priorities.

Time and time again before the election, we warned that our entry into office would be dominated by a deep-lying industrial and trade crisis. A crisis which in the event, was made immeasurably graver by their postponement of the day of electoral decision, and their failure in those humiliating months to take the decision that had to be taken.

When we issued those warnings, and I can take you back to a whole series of speeches beginning in Swansea in January, 1964, we underlined three things.

We underlined first, that we should be facing this crisis with a limited range of financial weapons which would be all that they would bequeath to us, but that we should use these weapons to the full, if necessary, to make Britain strong and sterling strong, whatever it meant, and however this might appear contrary to our broad long-term policy. We said that long before the election.

But we said, secondly, that while we were doing this, we would be taking every measure open to us not only by refurbishing and modernising the financial weapons, but also by creating new and more selective weapons of economic policy, to ensure that Britain should no longer be fated to plunge into a trade and payments crisis every time we dared, fitfully, for a few months, to break out of economic stagnation into a short period of expansion.

For we said that the condemnation of the Conservative stop-go-stop cycle was not merely their emphasis on stop. It was their failure all the time to build up our economic strength, to broaden our industrial base with more and modern equipment, to speed the training of skilled labour – so that we could break out of this cycle of crisis.

And the third thing we said – and all this was said before the election – was that if we faced a crisis, we would not, as happened in the bitter years that have followed each Tory election victory – seek to solve our problems by placing the greatest burdens on those least able to bear them; on the old, the sick, the disabled, the children. And neither would we hold back in a general freeze, the urgent task of bringing work to those areas where work was needed.

Although the Parliamentary Report I am presenting today has been dominated throughout this past year by the economic situation we inherited, it would, I think, be wrong for me to deal in detail with either the crisis and its causes, or with the action we have taken because the First Secretary of State and the Chancellor of the Exchequer, if they catch your eye, Mr. Chairman, will be dealing with this on Thursday.

It is for me only to draw out one or two central themes. One – we have met the successive developments of this crisis by decisions, by measures, that have been taken, measures which were not only relevant to the current need and the current problems and the current state of sterling, but were also relevant to the deep, underlying, longer-term problems we are facing. And equally, and no one would question this, the measures we have taken to rid this nation not only of the economic crisis that we inherited but of the industrial inadequacies, the industrial distortion which underlay and caused that crisis – those measures that we have taken have been opposed, misrepresented and irresponsibly misused by the very men who bore the responsibility for the crisis and who, for their own unworthy reasons, had failed to take the decisions which they knew, and which they know, to have been necessary.

My second point is that while we have had to use the rusty and outworn weapons they left to us, we have from the outset been making an attack on the root causes of our economic problems. We have attacked irrelevant and costly prestige defence projects. We have attacked the problem of our uncontrolled capital exports. We have attacked the problem of our unbalanced investment programmes and the problem of government expenditure. But above all through the National Economic Development Council, through the separate councils for individual industries, through the Ministry of Technology, we are engaged now on a great campaign to make this country technology-conscious and to speed the application of the fruits of scientific research to our industrial processes.

And, Mr. Chairman, they fought us: they fought us on the aircraft cuts – the Conservatives, aided and abetted by the Liberals in their Censure Motion on the aircraft cuts; they fought us on our attack on the debilitating freedom of the City to export abroad capital which we needed at home; they attacked us on our policies to modernise industries – all the things we have done have been resisted and opposed by day and by night by the Conservative Opposition.

The long process of filibuster and delay on the Finance Bill has been presented by certain sections of the Press as though all that was involved was a cliff-hanging exercise in Parliamentary majorities and a long drawn-out Tory selection conference. But what was really at stake was this: the most fundamental reform of our system of taxation which Parliament has seen for over half a century – and we did it with a majority of three. And let it be noted that in this Finance Bill battle, there were 107 divisions in which the Liberals – shades of the 1909 People’s Budget – voted 13 times with the Government for fiscal modernisation and 94 times with the Opposition against fiscal modernisation.

There they were, Conservatives and Liberals alike, with modernisation on their lips, voting with their feet against urgent measures of fiscal reform. And what they were fighting against was the Government’s attack on the expense account racket; against an effective capital gains tax; against the Corporation Tax, which when it is stripped of all its technical detail was a measure to get industry to plough back more of its profits into expansion and re-equipment and modernisation and to distribute less of those profits as dividends; and when it is stripped of all its detail was a measure to ensure that less of our investment capital is exported abroad and more of it is kept where it is needed, here in Britain. For that Budget and that Finance Bill were directly relevant to our industrial problems. But they were more than that, they were an essential part of the task of creating a fairer Britain, of eliminating economic and fiscal privilege, they were an essential element in creating the climate of social justice that we always said would be necessary if we were to appeal to all sections of the community for restraint, for sacrifice of personal advantage in the matter of prices and incomes and productivity. How could George Brown have gone to Brighton if we had not carried through the Finance Bill first?

Fourthly, we have the whole relevance of the National Plan to our future policies for industrial expansion. As George Brown will be dealing with this on Thursday, I don’t propose to say anything about it now. This is a breakthrough in national economic policy. It is more than that. It is also a breakthrough in the whole history of economic government by consent and consensus. In a very real sense, the publication of the Plan marks the beginning of phase two of the work of this Parliament and of this Government.

Because, after a year in which our first preoccupation was how to weather the storm, the whole world realises that despite the sour pronouncements of our opponents, we are now getting within measurable distance of balancing our overseas payments. The economy is strong. Sterling is strong. Employment is strong. But let no one under-rate the weight that we have been carrying in facing this economic problem over this last year. Indeed, because our first year, which is the period covered by this Report, has been utterly dominated by the economic situation they left us with, it would have been perfectly understandable if I had had to stand before you this morning and to say that because of that economic situation I was sorry but we had lost a year in starting the attack on the problems we were facing last October: if I were to stand up and say that we have not been able to build the New Britain because we had a demolition job to do first, to clear away the damage left by the Tory economic crisis. If that were what I had to report, I would not have apologised to this Conference.

But, in fact, this has been one of the most productive years in British Parliamentary history. It has been a year of Government. It has been a year of active and progressive legislation. The Parliamentary Report lists; – and I am not going to go through the whole list – the massive legislative programme that we have carried through the House of Commons, or will have carried into law by the time this session finally ends next month. As one reviews this record it brings back to me all that they were saying a year ago, when they said that Labour would not be able to form a government. ‘The chaps weren’t there.’ All right. Man for man, woman for woman, I challenge comparison between every member of the Labour Front Bench and their predecessors. I will go further. Man for man, woman for woman – I challenge any Tory editor to answer this (I hope you will pass this message on), and to make a comparison between every Labour Front Bencher and his Tory Shadow Cabinet opposite number – always supposing that any single Tory editor even knows at any moment of time who the opposite number is.

Indeed, I would go further. Even if – and heaven forbid – all of my colleagues and I were to get under an illuminated tram tomorrow – every one of us – you could form out of our present second-eleven, our Ministers of State and Parliamentary Secretaries, a Cabinet and top Ministerial team at least as good as we present to you now, and far better than anything our opponents could put forward. You don’t win either the F.A. Cup or the English cricket championship unless you have got good reserves.

So, ‘Labour could not form a government.’ That was one of the things they said a year ago. Another thing they said was that we would not have firmness of purpose, that we would not govern with authority, that we should be pushed around. We have not been pushed around. We have not been pushed around abroad, and we have not been pushed around at home – and we are not going to be. This is government of the people, it is government by the people, it is government for all the people. And the accent is on government.

Let me remind you of something else they said. That with a majority of three we could not get through major legislative programmes. And certainly all the time, while we have been doing this, there has been this anxious pulse-taking about our majority by pollsters and by Press alike. Day to day medical bulletins in the national Press. It has, in fact, been a diversionary Opposition tactic to concentrate attention on the size of our majority and not on the measures that that majority was systematically carrying through the House.

Let me give you the figures. In this session so far, there have been 268 divisions. Thirty-nine of these were free votes – an unusually high proportion. Two hundred and twenty-nine, therefore, were straight confrontations between Government and Opposition. Three of these we can dismiss. They were lost when the Tories were playing their midnight game of Cowboys and Indians in the houses of Smith Square and Lord North Street – which Tony Benn generously connected up with a telephone so that they could know what they were voting about. And they talk about proxy voting for sick MPs! The other 226 we won and our average majority was more than 13. In only a handful of divisions did we have a majority below our nominal three. And just to put Scarborough into its perspective, perhaps it is right that I should record that the Liberal Party – what Mr. Grimond quaintly calls the Radical Left, voted 68 times with us and 157 times with the Conservatives. To be fair, on four occasions, they abstained.

Five years ago, Mr. Chairman, you told Conference that you did not join the Labour Party to become a left-wing Liberal. To judge from the right-wing Liberal voting record in this Parliament, you would have been a lonely man if you had.

It would be utterly wrong in presenting this Parliamentary Report to Conference if I did not now pay tribute to the magnificent work of the Government Whips, led by Ted Short, Sidney Irving, and if I might draw the veil aside a little further, our pairing whip, John Silkin I do not believe any team of whips has ever done such a magnificent job in the history of Westminster, but it would be equally wrong not to pay tribute to the tremendous morale and loyalty of our Labour Members, not least the new Members whom you returned to Westminster last October. Our new Members are already veterans. They have already been through what is one of the greatest Parliamentary ordeals in history and they have enjoyed it. I don’t know how many times I have talked to some of our new Members during the small hours, even as dawn approached, talked to them a little anxiously perhaps, to be greeted with the rebuke ‘this is what we came here for.’

And if the House adjourned at 3 am or 3.30 am you could see them gaily claiming that they had been lucky – they had got a half day off. But day by day, and night by night, as the small majorities ticked their way across the scoreboard, we were carrying through a fundamental reform of our tax system. And the Finance Bill they said we couldn’t get through, and that we wouldn’t get through, is now the Finance Act.

But, sir, you would agree that no tribute to the unity, the morale and the loyalty of the Parliamentary Labour Party could possibly be complete without a tribute to the Chairman of the Parliamentary Party, that great and ever young veteran, Manny Shinwell.

In a lifetime of service to this movement, nothing has surpassed or will surpass his contribution in this past year.

So, despite the economic crisis, despite the obstructive time-wasting manoeuvres of the Tory Party on the Finance Bill, the Rent Bill and other measures, we succeeded in a little over eight months in carrying through the Houses of Parliament 65 Bills. That is two more than the Tories managed in the previous session with a majority of 100; it is 14 more than the average for the 13 years 1951 to 1964. What is more, many of these were major Bills and we had to produce them without having had the time or the opportunity before we came to power, of course, to get them drafted. So that with the usual delays that an incoming government has, we have still been able to present a formidable legislative programme.

I am only going to say a word or two about some of these Bills. The first one was referred to yesterday by Peggy Herbison. It was a small one but there are many here who know what it means in terms of real humanity when we carried out our pledge – in our first Bill – to introduce a Bill to give old-age pensioners on our housing estates and elsewhere the right to free or concessionary bus fares – the Bill the Tories refused to introduce, the Bill the Tories blocked for years.

2.  We said we would take urgent action to raise pensions, and as Peggy told you yesterday, within a fortnight of Parliament meeting, we introduced the Bill.

3.  We had given a pledge to abolish the earnings rule for widows and to increase the pension of the ten shilling widow. We honoured the pledge.

4.  We said we would abolish the prescription charge. We abolished it.

5.  We said we would provide security of tenure for families in their homes. Without waiting for our main Rent Act repeal measure, we put an immediate stop to evictions.

6.  We had promised to repeal the Tory Rent Act, to provide new machinery for fixing fair rents, and to give Government and all others who required them, the powers they needed to fight the evils of Rachmanism. That Bill is through the Commons despite Tory obstruction. It is in the Lords – within a week of Parliament meeting again, we intend it to become law. It was on the Bill to restore security of tenure, and it was on the Rent Bill that our new Members, not I imagine to their surprise, saw the full virulence of Tory Opposition tactics when the Tories were fighting for something near and dear to them, the rights of landlords and property interests.

7.  We had said that those who lost their jobs as a result of industrial changes should receive, as of right, severance pay. In the Redundancy Payments Bill – which you carried through Parliament, Mr. Chairman, we have kept that pledge.

8.  We said we would take action to bring new life to the Highlands and Islands of Scotland. The Highlands and Islands Development Act – what they call the ‘Marxist measure’ – is on the Statute Book.

9.  We gave a pledge about the Trade Disputes Bill. We have honoured that pledge.

10.  We have introduced a new Monopolies Bill to curb the abuses of monopoly power.

11.  We said we would provide machinery to overhaul our archaic and obsolete system of law. The Law Commissioners have been set up and they are at work under Labour’s Act of Parliament, and the Lord Chancellor is now due to present to Parliament the detailed and imaginative programme of law reform to which the Commissioners have set their hands.

12.  We said we would get rid of the restrictions on the right of railway workshops and other nationalised industrialised undertakings, to do work for export or for strengthening our industrial base. That was our pledge and the Minister of Transport has already acted. And we shall introduce a further measure to remove those restrictions which require statutory repeal.

This is just part of our record for one Parliamentary session. We have begun to lay the legislative foundations of the New Britain, though – I must repeat this – it takes time, it necessarily takes time, for the legislation to bear fruit. Dick’s Rent Act, when it becomes law, will take time to work through but, at this, stage we cannot put it to Conference.

When I talk about phase two, if you like, session two of this Parliament, I am not only referring to the improvement in our economic position, I am referring to the fact that starting with the Plan a fortnight ago, we shall now have a steady flow of new Government measures and new Government Bills.

Yesterday, Dick, the Minister of Housing and Local Government, told you something of our plans in the field of housing. Let me say that he did not tell you a half of it. He cannot yet, but he will soon, and he will have a great deal more to say when the National Housing Plan is published in a few weeks’ time. You see, we have had to spend so much of the first session in clearing up the festering debris of the Tory Rent Act legislation. Now we can go forward.

The housing problem, as every one of us said in the election, is the greatest social problem of this age, comparable in its impact, comparable in terms of human misery, to the problem of unemployment in those pre-war years. We said in the election that we would treat it as a priority operation. We said that if it were necessary to hold back any form of less essential building so that the Housing Programme could be increased, we should not hesitate to see what was necessary and to do what was necessary. Yesterday, Charlie Pannell, the Minister of Public Buildings and Works, gave you details of what this meant.

Dick told you what the programme was. Five hundred thousand houses a year by 1970, and a rising proportion of houses to let, but within that total is more to let and more for the owner-occupier. This is the only answer to the over-crowding problem in our towns and cities. The only answer to the problem of the slums, the only answer to the problem of Rachmanism – the evils of which the Tories, when they were in power first denied and then minimised – evils which were dramatically highlighted by the Milner Holland Report last autumn.

Last week, we announced our plan for London Housing and Dick yesterday rightly paid tribute to Bob Mellish who has worked day and night to get this London housing programme launched – and it has been a labour of love.

But you cannot build houses without land. Last week, the Minister of Land and Natural Resources published our White Paper with our proposals for a Land Commission. This, and the Bill which is to follow, make a reality of one of the central promises of Labour in the last election – our promise to deal once and for all with the problem of racketeering in the price of land, our promise to see that land is available when it is needed both for local authority housing programmes and for owner-occupiers; our promise that we would do this because otherwise Town and Country Planning is meaningless; our promise – a basic theme of Socialist belief – that profits arising through the action of the community should accrue to the community.

I call that a Socialist theme; yes, I should have thought a Liberal theme, too. That great ‘modernising’ Party on this theme at least at Scarborough last week carried through an exercise in recidivism which places its present leadership some years behind the Liberals of 60 years ago. In 1909, in 1910, they filled the land with song, ‘God gave the land to the people.’ Now, in 1965, we have the first fruits of Liberal revisionism: while they would not intend to throw doubt on the Almighty’s intention in this respect, their researches suggest that He did not intend this declaration to be taken too literally.

The Conservatives, predictably, condemned the proposals out of hand. The umbilical links between the Conservative Party and the landlords and property interests are too close to permit of much objectivity. But it is interesting to see in their first statement that they now support a levy on land profits. Since when? In Government, right to the last minute, they rejected all our proposals for a radical solution. On television, and throughout the election, their leader proclaimed his determination to die in the last ditch in defence of the free market in land.

Let this be clear. We regard our land proposals, worked out after an infinity of care and study, as essential to our housing programme and to our programme of rebuilding Britain. These issues cannot be discussed in the vulgar currency of Press comment about deals with this, that or the other political Party. Our land programme is a categorical imperative for this movement, for this Government, and for Britain.

We will not trade this or any other principle with those who may be faint of heart or infirm of purpose. We shall insist that all these measures go through. To take any other course would be an abdication of the responsibilities of Government.

As with land, so with financial provision. Dick referred to this yesterday. We shall announce our proposals for the long-term relations between the central Government and local government in the matter of finance. We shall announce our new and revolutionary proposals (that Dick was hinting at yesterday) for the finance of local authority housing. We are hard at work on rating reform.

And let me say to our friends from Wales – I opened the General Election campaign just a year ago last Saturday in Cardiff – to our friends from the Midlands, from London and other areas, we are pledged in this forthcoming session to deal once and for all with the leasehold problem.

Having referred to housing, I think it is right since this is referred to at length in the Parliamentary Report – and you would not want me to burke it – that at this point I should say something about immigration.

I do not propose to anticipate the debate which is to take place on Wednesday about the Government’s White Paper and our proposed legislation. But I want it understood that this is a decision, not of one Department of State, it is a Government decision, collectively taken and after the fullest consideration, by the highest authority in our system of government. But it is right, first, that I should stress our insistence on the positive attack on the problems presented by immigration. This is a positive White Paper. There has been too much talk about the negative side of it. We have legislated against racial incitement and against racial discrimination in public places. A number of senior Ministers have been, and are, spending, and will continue to spend, a lot of their time, and an energetic junior Minister is spending practically his whole time, on the practical problems of assimilation and integration of Commonwealth immigrants in our big towns and cities, especially in the fields of housing and education. We have sought to deal with the problem of immigration in consultation with other Commonwealth countries. But we must face the fact that largely because of the widespread evasion of the Act, in the concluding months of the Conservative Government – and, of course, the loopholes remain – there are towns and cities in Britain which are being asked today to absorb a degree of immigration on a scale beyond their social capacity to absorb, without serious risks, having regard to the time required for absorption.

There have been those – and we all know there have been those – who did not scruple to play on issues of race and colour for squalid and ignoble political motives. I want to say to you, with all the emphasis at my command, that the Government takes the view that we have a duty to act here and that failure to fulfil that duty might lead in a very short time to a social explosion in this country of the kind that we have seen abroad.

We cannot take the risk of allowing the democracy of this country to become stained and tarnished with the taint of racialism or of colour prejudice. I want to make it clear that in the positive policies set out in the White Paper for assimilation, for absorption, for integration, we proceed from the proposition that everyone living in this country, everyone who has come in or will come in is a British citizen, entitled to equality of treatment regardless of origin or race or colour.

Time will be required for assimilation and this is why we must have restriction, particu;larly having regard to the widespread evasions. But I repudiate the libel that the Government’s policy is based either on colour or on racial prejudice. We repudiate, and let me say for my part, I resent, the accusation of illiberality or of any desire whether on the part of the Home Secretary, or of the Government as a whole, to act in an arbitrary manner. Our concern was with evasion, and the new power – which I know has caused anxiety – in respect of repatriation relates only to those who have illegally or fraudulently entered this country.

Mr. Chairman, I have referred to the last session of the Commons. Sixty-five measures in the last session: and it would not be right or proper for me to indicate all the measures which we can expect to see passed in the session which is due to begin on 9 November. We have already announced that we shall. legislate to give effect to the forward looking measures in Fred Peart’s White Paper on Agricultural policies. Before Parliament meets, we shall be publishing our proposals for a Parliamentary Commissioner, the so-called Ombudsman, to investigate the grievances of individual citizens where a prima facie case is made out involving injustice or culpable neglect by great Departments of State. We shall be laying before the nation the reforms necessary in social security and our detailed plans for relating benefits to earnings.

And we plan to introduce another measure of which we gave notice in the Queen’s Speech at the Opening of Parliament last November. As part of our proposals to reform Company Law, so as to give shareholders greater information about the activities of the companies they own, we propose to introduce a statutory obligation on the part of members of boards of directors to give full details of any contributions of their shareholders’ money towards the funds of any political party, or of any front organisation which exists for political purposes. I think that it will be generally agreed and here I confidently count on the unanimous support of the House of Commons, that this will not only be a valuable reinforcement of existing statutory provisions within the field of Company Law and the protection of shareholders, but it will also provide a necessary cleansing agent – cleaning up one of the seamier sides of British public life and improving the standard of our democracy.

The Parliamentary Report I have just discussed gives the record of our achievement in our first session. By the end of our second session, we shall have carried into law almost the whole of the specific pledges which we laid before the country last October, and on which all of us fought that great campaign. Our manifesto was designed for a full five year Parliament. It was not our final programme: it was the first of a broadening series of Socialist programmes, and yet, though it is designed for five years, in two sessions the greater part of it will have become law – to say nothing of a great programme of social reform which we have introduced or shall be successively introducing outside the specific pledges we made a year ago.

I beg you, in your humanity, to consider what all this means for the Conservative Opposition. For their stock in trade is based on the repetitive use of two dying assets. One is their unscrupulous political use of the measures we have had to take to deal with their economic crisis. The second is their pathetic complaint that we have broken our election promises, and this complaint which, as we have seen in Parliament and outside, has taken the form of a newly discovered Conservative concern for many groups of people – or should I say groups of voters – whose needs they scorned for 13 years. They are suddenly concerned about aid for owner-occupiers, about aid for ratepayers, about the doctors, about the teachers. As I said on television last week, nothing is more pathetic than this repetitive complaint that in less than a year, we have not yet done everything that they failed to do, or neglected to do, or hadn’t the humanity to do, or refused to do, or didn’t know how to do, in 13 years.

And now, as the economic deficit moves slowly but surely into economic surplus, and equally, as we put into effect measure after measure in fulfilment of the mandate for which we asked in our election manifesto – as these two things happen – so will this discredited Tory Party be reduced to a querulous and impotent irrelevance, because during all this period they have not put forward a single positive proposal.

I call as witness 300 Labour Members of Parliament. In a year of almost unprecedented Parliamentary, activity, with measure succeeding measure in its passage through the House, we have not had from the Conservative Opposition, a single statement of alternative policy on any of the issues on which we have legislated. Negative opposition to one Bill after another, whether they are Bills for which we have sought and obtained a mandate, or whether they are corrective financial measures made necessary by the crisis they had bequeathed to us, on all these things their record has been not only negative, it has been nihilist. We have had from them no proposals, and, of course, anyone who looks at the political scene – even the Press will be admitting this in their leaders very soon – will say that when a country has to judge it is not judging between two parties on the record of how negative one of them has been in Opposition: it is judging between a government and an alternative government, and the Conservative Party have destroyed any claim they might have had to be regarded as a credible alternative government.

And so it goes on. Most measures they have denounced out of hand as soon as they have seen them. They have now set up a department in the Conservative Central Office to divide all our Bills and White Papers into two classes: those they attack on sight and those they attack before they have read them.

Month by month; we have been promised the new statement of Conservative principles. It was ready in January, it will be ready in March. It was ready for a spring election, we should have it in July. Now we are told it is going to be available before, during, or after the Conservative Party Conference. For my part, I shall neither praise nor condemn its contents until I have read it. But I will say this. In so far as it calls for changes in Government policies, or improvements in our system of society, or improved quality of management in industry – which they now keep talking about – or reforms in trade unions, in so far as it calls for a fairer distribution of our social services, then the publication of this policy statement will be a more eloquent and damning indictment than any words or comments of mine could be, on the Conservative record, of their failure to do all the things they now say are necessary, when they have just ended responsibility for the conduct of the nation’s affairs and the shaping of our social system – which lasted for 13 years.

Nye had a word for it, as always: Why look in the crystal ball when you can read the book? Thirteen volumes of it.

This is one reason why their efforts to produce a policy should command our sympathy; they can produce nothing new without utterly condemning their own record.

Another reason for sympathy – and I am sorry that I am not getting the sympathetic expressions on your faces that I hoped for – is that they are trying to produce a policy in a Party which is fundamentally divided not only on means but also on its basic philosophy. Weasel words cannot bridge the gulf between those who slowly and reluctantly have come to accept, at any rate, some measure of economic planning and those among their leaders – recently promoted some of them – who claim a policy of economic and social anarchy, a policy, a philosophy, which had already been repudiated by some of the more progressive Tories in the 1860s.

But there is something more serious than this. We are told that under their new leadership, the old slogans will go and that new and more inspiring themes will lie at the heart of their policies. What are these themes? Partnership? Co-operation? A combined operation to modernise Britain? None of these.

We are told, with authority, that the keynote is to be ‘conflict.’ That is to be the philosophy – ‘conflict.’ That the Conservative Party should now consciously ally itself with management against all other groups in the community.

That management must be set against labour, that equally, labour must be set against management. This apparently is what is meant by the fashionable new word ‘abrasive’ – a return to the bitterness of Taff Vale and to the class-war philosophy of Galsworthy’s ‘Strife.’ This is the modernisation. The Conservative Party, always materialist, is now logically getting itself ready to adopt a Marxist posture.

I warn these men that they are playing with fire for electoral purposes. Some of them showed that they were not above unleashing the evil passions of race and colour hatred, and none of them, even yet, has denounced what was done in their name a year ago.

But now, it is clear that in the top leadership of their Party there are men who will not scruple for electoral purposes to unleash a new source of conflict in Britain, in British industry, by incitement and provocation in industry. This Government of ours has not been slow to condemn nor slow to act where industry has faced paralysis through sporadic unofficial disputes and our condemnation, through your words and actions, Mr. Chairman, is directed against any – be they feudal managements, or irresponsible strikers – who have jeopardised our industrial recovery.

Now the Tories, who for 13 years did nothing, claim to have discovered the problem of industrial relations. Let them realise that the course on which they now appear to be set, so far from reducing industrial problems, could set industry ablaze.

The truth is that the new Conservative appeal to professional management is a diversionary tactic to conceal their basic preoccupation not with the functions of management and industrial efficiency with which we are concerned, but with ownership (following their tradition), with the rights of a privileged minority, by those who own money and make money out of that ownership, or those who own land and hold the rest of the country to ransom through the ownership of land. That was the inspiration of their Finance Bill fight when the Shadow Chancellor and his cub tycoons, that assembly of city acolytes, were fighting not for industry but for finance. It was also the spirit that informed the two successive Conservative leaders in their attacks on the Highland and Islands Bill and all other land legislation.

For what they are engaged on is not a question either of measures or of men. It is a desperate attempt to provide the admen with what they call the new image.

I have said before at this Conference that I don’t think much of this image stuff. For us men at any rate, our shaving mirror tells us what the image is. It is something never very far removed from the face that we present. Nikolai Gogol, so far as I am concerned, has the last word on these Colman, Prentiss and Varley techniques in his foreword to his play, ‘The Government Inspector,’ a century and more ago when he quoted this Russian proverb: ‘NA ZERKALO NYETCHA PYENYAT KOLI ROZHA KRIVA.’ For the benefit of any who are not familiar with that, in the words of the authorised translation, ‘Don’t blame the mirror if the mug is ugly.’

Enough of them. We have more important things to talk about. We are building the New Britain, and with this I close my introduction this morning. We do not claim to have built it yet. In our first year, we were building with the brokers’ men looking over our shoulder. We have had to clear from the building site the debris of wasted years. What we can say – it is a modest claim, perhaps – is that this year has been spent on the foundations, on putting the footings in. But in all we have done, whatever the difficulties, whatever bottlenecks we have had, and the two principal ones have been money and Parliamentary time, in all this difficult year, we have kept our eyes raised to the great design of the structure that we are seeking to build.

I began this morning by saying what I felt was the vision of the New Britain for which our people voted a year ago. I have shown how in this unprecedentedly difficult year, we have started to move towards that new Britain. The years that lie ahead will see our forward march.

Soon, we shall be announcing our plans for a great productivity drive, a great technological revolution, which will turn into a reality the vision that we proclaimed at Scarborough.

This new Britain that we are building will be a Britain of opportunity. An opportunity for the young; an opportunity under the forward looking proposals which Alice Bacon has worked out in the Home Office for children, deprived of a fair chance in life, to have that: chance. And opportunity to us means for every boy and girl, the right to the educational development which will enable him or her to develop their innate talents and qualities to the full.

This is why educational expenditure is running at a record level, why school building has been exempted from the restrictions of the past year, and why it is planned to raise it at so rapid a rate over the next five years. This is why we have made the purposive start on the ending of the 11 plus selection and on the creation of a truly comprehensive system. This is why the Secretary of State for Education and Science has moved to give effect to the plan set out in Signposts for the Sixties and approved by conference for the integration of the public school system.

But equally, if there can be no arbitrary selection at 11 plus, there can be none either at 18 plus hence our drive to build up the universities and to establish parity of esteem between those universities with a technological background and those founded on older disciplines. And I am proud to speak as the. Chancellor designate of Bradford University.

But this must be the Britain which releases the energies of our people at every age.

We do not regard the battle for production as a limited private war confined to Ministers and Government servants, and top industrial managers and trade union leaders. It must be a battle in which the whole British people is mobilised. That is why we have called for the establishment of production committees in every factory, allowing all who have contributions to make to increased production to play their full part regardless of outdated ideas about the sacred preserves of management.

We want to see – and here our great new regional councils can give the lead – the service of our young technologists and scientists mobilised in an assault on the technical problems of industry and I should like to see our junior chambers of commerce mobilise keen young business men, exporters, salesmen, marketing experts, for the attack on the export markets. We promised you two years ago it would be our aim to release the energies of the British people and we meant it.

But this cannot be judged in industrial terms alone. The new Britain must be related not only to the quantity of production but to the quality of life. At Scarborough, I said the automative age would at once make possible these facilities and create the demand for increased facilities for the use of leisure.

And even with the limitations which the last year has imposed, we all of us are proud of what Jennie Lee has achieved in providing for increased expenditure and increased investment in our national arts and amenities and especially for the extension of this programme to the provinces.

And she is working with equal determination to make a reality of another cherished Labour proposal – the University of the Air, to provide for our people an opportunity of higher education, perhaps a higher education they missed through no fault of their own, whether vocationally or in pursuing more liberal studies. Jennie and those advising her have already studied in depth all that will be involved in creating a new national university of the air, with its vice-chancellor, its system of degrees and diplomas, its courses, using television and radio, particularly local broadcasting stations, bringing into the service the work of colleges of further education, making use of residential and correspondence courses, the W.E.A., and the extra-mural departments.

There are those who are disappointed that we have not done more to alter the external trappings of our society. Frankly, we have been more concerned with the citadels of effective power than with its external embellishments. It has been more important to assert national and social responsibility in our economic and social life. This may be disenchanting, but we are more interested in the monthly trade returns than in Debrett, more preoccupied with reading what is said by the industrial correspondents and economic editors than what is said by William Hickey; more concerned with modernising the machinery of government, including the vitally necessary creation of modern regional machinery, much more with the action that will need to follow the Report of the Estimates Committee on the Recruitment, Training and Structure of the Civil Service than in altering the layout of Burke’s Landed Gentry. In the language of priorities, we are more concerned with the work of the House of Commons – a newly nationalised House of Commons – than with the future of the House of Lords. Though I should perhaps mention that since last October, there have been no hereditary peerages created, and no baronetcies either, nor has the Labour Chief Whip followed the example of his Tory predecessors who regularly used the Honours List as a means of rewarding, and corrupting, their Parliamentary Party.

That is our Parliamentary Report to you. We intend to get on with the job you gave us to do. I believe that is what you want. I believe that is what the country wants and for once, I find myself reinforced by the unity of the two public opinion polls – I have not seen an Express one lately – which show that an overwhelming majority of our fellow-citizens are sick and tired of manoeuvring, of Press gossip about an early and unnecessary election, and want to see what Labour can do with the mandate they gave to us.

Others may manoeuvre. We have a job to do. We have not been approached by any other Party with a view to a pact, a deal or a coalition. It is entirely right and proper that a Party leader should be concerned to show the fullest respect, as he does, to those who elected their 10 Members; it is equally right and proper for us to show our equal respect for the views of those who elected our 300. We are clear what our mandate means in terms of our Parliamentary programme and in terms of executive Government. I hope that others will feel able to support these measures which we put forward because we believe them to be in the national interest. If they can, we shall welcome their support. If they cannot, we shall have to go on without them.

So, if others find themselves unable honourably to support the measures we put forward – and I intend no reflection on their motives – this must be a matter for them. But if this leads to a seizure in our Parliamentary government, or a situation in which effective government cannot be carried on, then let this be understood – this will not then be an issue to be settled in the back corridors of the Palace of Westminster, it will be an issue to be settled by the sovereign and independent decision of the British people.

For the power you conferred on us is not a gift, but a trust; it belongs not to us but to the whole British people; and it will not be the Parties or the pressmen; the pollsters, the principalities and powers who will decide: it will be the people, who alone can refresh and reinforce our mandate, and it will be to the people that we shall render the account of our stewardship in carrying out the task they gave us of building a new and fairer Britain.

Harold Wilson – 1945 Maiden Speech


Below is the text of the maiden speech made in the House of Commons by Harold Wilson on 9th October 1945.

I am not sure whether in making a maiden speech from what is, I think, an unusual part of the House one is entitled to ask for its indulgence. Probably I am not entitled to ask for it, though on this occasion I feel the need for it even more than many of my colleagues who were elected to Parliament for the first time in the recent Election. They, at least, have spoken with great authority on the subjects which they have chosen and, although I find myself speaking from a part of the House where one is expected to speak with authority — though I am told this has not always been the case — I am called on to deal with a subject which even veteran Members of this House would enter upon only with very great trepidation — the important question of the amenities and facilities provided for private Members of this House.

May I say that, speaking as one of the new young Members to whom my hon. Friend referred, I share, as we all do, their desire to see Parliament work as efficiently as it is possible for it to work. My hon. Friend raised a number of points with some of which I am not competent to deal. For instance, he raised the question of the Treasury for which I am, perhaps fortunately, not answerable. He raised also the question of postage which I know is inflicting very serious concern on a number of hon. Members, and I will undertake to see that what he said is brought to the notice of the authorities concerned. I think that all I can properly reply to is this question of the allocation of rooms for which the Ministry of Works is partly responsible, and also the subject he mentioned at the beginning, namely, the provision of accommodation in London for Members who have, so far, had difficulty in finding it.

With regard to the amenities of Members within this House, the Government and all the authorities concerned are trying to do everything possible to improve them so that Members can do their job as efficiently as possible. I know how important this is in the matter of facilities for dictating letters and interviewing the general public. Members who have had greater experience than I have told me that in the past few weeks the amount of correspondence they have received has been very much greater than they can remember in the past. Certainly, those Members who have had an opportunity, during the recent Recess, of refreshing themselves by visiting their constituencies, or living in them, can testify to the desire of the public, greater than ever before, to see their Member of Parliament and discuss with him questions of private or public importance. I believe that the confidence of the public in Parliament as an institution, and in Members as individuals; is perhaps greater now than at any time in the past.

The Government are most desirous that all possible facilities shall be given for adequate meetings, and for free and frank discussion between Members and the public. My hon. Friend referred to facilities which have been provided in other parts of the world. I, too, have seen the lavish scale on which Congressmen and Senators in the United States for instance, can entertain members of the public. As the House will know, provision is being made, when the Chamber is rebuilt, for additional amenities for Members, particularly for interviewing and the dictation of letters. In order that those who are charged with the duty of building the new Chamber shall be kept informed of what is required, I am asked by my right hon. Friend to say that it is his intention to carry out the proposal made by his predecessor to appoint a panel of private 188 Members to advise him on any questions of lay-out which may arise in the course of that work.

Rosie Winterton – 2003 Speech on Mental Health

Below is the text of the speech made by Rosie Winterton on mental health on 28th October 2003.

I am delighted to have the opportunity to address this fifth annual mental health forum organised by the SCMH. It is a good moment to take stock, and to set out the direction for the future in this time of transition for mental health care.

As most of you know when this government came into office, mental health was set as a priority for reform alongside cancer and CHD. Why? Because we inherited a legacy of under-investment in mental health services; a host of damaging inquiries into service failures, and a de-moralised under-supported workforce. Community services were in a sorry state.

There are no short term solutions to what needs to be done. This is a challenging time for mental health services.  It needs investment to build capacity – in new services and in the workforce, but it also needs reform in the way that those services are provided and that workforce cares for and treats people – modernised in-patient facilities, services that reach out into the community, making a reality of user involvement and recognising the key role that primary care needs to play in mental health services that treat people when and where it is most appropriate to do so.

This is why we have set out on a radical programme of modernisation so that the NHS and social services can improve access to effective treatment and care, reduce unfair variation, raise standards, and provide quicker and more convenient services.  We produced clear and comprehensive plans for improving mental health services that present the best opportunity and the biggest investment to improve the lives of a large and neglected group of people.

Thus underlining the importance of developing modern mental health and social care services for the one in six people, at any one time, who suffer from a mental health problem.

Our National Service Framework for Mental Health, developed in partnership with service users, professionals and stakeholders set out the action that was needed. It was the first NSF to be published and set out standards across the full spectrum of care from stigma and self care, to the action needed to prevent suicide amongst those with the most severe conditions.

But in publishing the NSF we knew the service faced a legacy of under-investment and a de-moralised workforce. This is why, though I am pleased we are making progress, I know that progress will not be easy or quick. I want to set out some of the steps that we have taken.

Over £300m new investment has been allocated for mental health services to ‘fast forward’ the national service framework  – over and above the 2001/02 baseline.

Second, we are directing it towards new teams and services for the most vulnerable: at Crisis Resolution and Home Treatment Teams, and Assertive Outreach teams; at services for people with severe personality disorder, and to improve mental health services in prisons.

We have also prioritised recruiting new staff, new ways of working and we are taking action to reduce stigma and strengthen primary care. Why? Because this is what service users and carers and other expert stakeholders said was most important.

I want to address directly the criticisms made of this ambitious plan. It is said that new money has not gone where it was supposed to go.  However, the Autumn assessment of mental health services shows absolutely unequivocal evidence of very significant increases in spend in the last financial year. For example, we know that £262 million went in to modernising mental health services in 2002-03. We are continuing to monitor this carefully.

With a number of major NHS Plan targets deadlines looming and resource pressures hitting hard, services in many areas are finding it hard to keep up. It is said that progress is slow on meeting targets. But there are now over 100 crisis resolution teams and over 200 assertive outreach teams in place, and targets for early intervention teams, and new staff and new ways of working are progressing. Mental health trusts have taken some very significant steps towards providing alternatives to inpatient care, where this is appropriate and safe. And I know that most people prefer treatment and care provided in this way. Home treatment, where possible and safe, helps avoid the stigma associated with hospitalisation and ensures people can stay in touch with their families and social networks.

It is said that workforce issues represent a risk to the programme – and I agree that this is a major challenge. But I am pleased to say that the number of consultant psychiatrists has risen by over 20% since 1997; the number of nurses by over 25% and the number of psychologists by over 50%. Work with the Royal College of Psychiatrists and the NHS Leadership Centre is progressing well. I am also very encouraged by plans being developed to employ new kinds of workers and by the establishment of 12 new training schemes to support primary care mental health.

We are now beginning to see Graduate mental health workers being employed to provide talking therapies and Gateway workers helping people access the full range of services they need. Early intervention in psychosis services are making a real breakthrough – we are now able to reach out to young people experiencing a first episode of psychosis faster and improve their treatment outcomes. And where they operate, Home Treatment services are giving people real choice in where they get the help and treatment they need.

It is said that commissioners and managers fail to give mental health the priority afforded to other areas; that Shifting the Balance of Power diverted attention away. But we shifted the balance of power so that resources could be more closely matched to the needs of local people; so that PCTs and their partner organisations could take full account of strengths or gaps in their area. Mental health is a priority and I believe we are starting to see some of the benefits. But local support is vital.

This is why we are putting in more effective systems– such as better information systems – and we are supporting growth in capacity through the National Institute for Mental Health in England.  We are doing this: –

– Through careful deliberation of Local Delivery Plans

– Through quarterly meetings with mental health leads in all SHAs

– Through support for Local Implementation Teams to make effective partnerships between health and social care

– Through action to promote engagement amongst people with mental health problems from black and minority ethnic (BME) communities (and not forgetting the BME implementation document I launched last week)

– Through the promotion of self-management of illness via NIMHE’s expert by experience programme

And when things go wrong – as they sometimes do – we will intervene. By the end of this month there will be an NHS Improvement Programme in every zero, one and two star NHS organisation that sets out how sustainable improvements in performance will be achieved. The Department has established a Recovery and Support Unit which can, in partnership with the Strategic Health Authority, help zero star trusts to:

– set up staff exchanges to bring additional support and help introduce new ways of working

– bring in expert providers from within or outside the NHS to advise on and implement improved systems and management practices

– and, as a last resort, to introduce new senior managers

But what about the future? We have to ‘mainstream’ health and social care services; to prevent problems developing, and promote healthier lives, and this goes much wider than the Department of Health. We have taken action to tackle poverty and low incomes; we are breaking down the barriers preventing people on Incapacity Benefit from getting back to work and the Supporting People programme is giving local authorities greater flexibility to support vulnerable people, including people with mental health problems, to retain tenancies and stay in their own homes.

So I am particularly pleased that the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister asked the Social Exclusion Unit to consider what more can be done to reduce social exclusion amongst adults with mental health problems. This will help us think about how to improve rates of employment, social participation, and better access to services – of central importance to mental health service users and carers.

I would also like to mention the Choice Consultation being undertaken this autumn to listen to the concerns of service users and carers and to explore the scope to make services more responsive and more fair. I am personally very excited by the opportunities that both the Social Exclusion Unit Project and the Choice consultation provide. In working closely with service users and carers, they will help us understand what makes a real difference to people with mental health problems – a model for how I think we should be working in the future and I look forward to working with you to make that difference.

Finally, I’d like to come on to the draft Mental Health Bill. It is important that we get a Bill that more accurately reflects and supports modern health services, not only as they are today, but as they will be in the future.

We want to see a modern legislative framework for mental health service initiatives and investment to reflect modern patterns of care and treatment and human rights law. I want to see significant improvements to patient safeguards. But also to protect public safety by enabling patients to get the right treatment at the right time.

I would like to spend a moment to highlight some of the new safeguards which were set out in the draft Bill.

For the first time, all compulsion beyond 28 days will be authorised independently by the new Mental Health Tribunal.

For the first time, wherever possible the patient’s own choice of a nominated person can help and represent them.

For the first time, patients will have access to new specialist mental health advocacy to support them and their nominated person.

Under the changes there would be a requirement for every patient to have an individual written care plan.  And tribunals and courts will be independently advised by experts drawn from a new expert panel.

These are significant steps forward in ensuring a transparent system and support for people with a mental disorder.

I am aware that there has been a long silence following the consultation last year, and I appreciate the frustrations that many of you have felt.  We have been evaluating your response to consultation very carefully, and will be publishing our response before the Bill is introduced.  However, the dialogue with key stakeholder groups has continued over the last few months.

Before joining the Department of Health, as part of my work in the Department of Constitutional Affairs, I was responsible for bringing in the draft Mental Incapacity Bill. During this process, I met with as many stakeholders as possible to obtain their views.

However, there is some overlap, and work is continuing to ensure that there is consistency between the Mental Incapacity Bill and both the Mental Health Act and the new Mental Health Bill.

In my new job, I have made it a priority to meet with people concerned with the Mental Health Bill.

In recent months I have been participating in a series of meetings with stakeholders to road-test issues in some detail – issues such as how the Bill’s powers will work in the community and improving patient safeguards.

These meetings have been highly focussed, and have brought together service users, clinicians, managers and other interested parties.

Real progress is being made in these meetings – sometimes giving solutions and at other times just a much clearer idea of the problems!

I have found the meetings incredibly helpful, and have been impressed with the commitment of participants- many of whom feel strongly about the Bill- to look for practical solutions that will benefit service users.  This work is still ongoing.

While we may not always agree on the difficult issues that are involved in reforming the Mental Health Act, we must work together. Many of you in this room will have already influenced the Government’s plans for the better.

Of course there will be differences, but my suggestion to you today is that we build on the positive work that has already been done and keep looking for those practical solutions together.