David Cameron – 2013 Statement on the CHOGM in Sri Lanka

davidcameron

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Commonwealth meeting

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

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

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

Britain is a leading member.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sri Lanka

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

That was not my decision.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I very much hope that he seizes it.

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

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

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

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

Mr Speaker, I had a choice at this Summit.

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

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

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

And I commend this statement to the House.

David Cameron – 2013 Speech in Kolkata

davidcameron

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS

Question

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

Prime Minister

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

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

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

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

Question

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

Prime Minister

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

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

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

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

Question

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

Prime Minister

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

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

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

More questions. Gentleman here.

Question

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

Prime Minister

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

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

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

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

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

Next question. Gentleman here.

Question

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

Prime Minister

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Right, next question. Gentleman in the middle.

Question

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

Prime Minister

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

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

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

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

Gentlemen here.

Question

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

Prime Minister

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

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

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

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

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

Next question. Gentleman here.

Question

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

Prime Minister

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

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

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

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

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

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

Next question. Sir.

Question

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

Prime Minister

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

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

More questions. Lady at the back there.

Question

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

Prime Minister

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

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

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

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

Last couple of questions. Gentleman here.

Question

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

Prime Minister

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

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

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

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

Lady here.

Question

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

Prime Minister

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

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

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

Gentleman here in the checked shirt.

Question

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

Prime Minister

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

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

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

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

Question

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

Prime Minister

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

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

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

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

Question

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

Prime Minister

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

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

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

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

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

David Cameron – 2013 Lord Mayor’s Banquet Speech

davidcameron

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We negotiated a real terms cut in the EU Budget.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Traditionally these have been about our security and our values.

Today the biggest challenge we face is economic.

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

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

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

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

But this time there is a difference.

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

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

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

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

The global economy is not a zero sum game.

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

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

So how do we succeed?

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

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

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

That’s clearly not the answer.

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

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

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

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

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

So what is?

Engage in some sort of race to the bottom?

Absolutely not.

That completely misunderstands the dynamics of the global economy.

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

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

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

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

We have the global language of business.

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

The City of London, the global home of finance.

Our top universities are amongst the best on the planet.

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

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

You name it, we’ve created it.

And the truth is we’re still at it.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We need to build something better.

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

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

What does all that mean in practice?

I believe it means we need 4 things.

First, an economy with a state we can afford.

Second, an economy where everyone can take part.

Third, an economy that is equipped for the future.

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

Let me just say a word about each.

First, an economy with a state we can afford.

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

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

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

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

Let’s be clear.

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

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

This government is not prepared to let that happen.

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

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

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

It also means something more profound.

It means building a leaner, more efficient state.

We need to do more with less.

Not just now, but permanently.

It can be done. Consider these facts.

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

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

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

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

That’s not what we have today.

Consider this.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

That’s simply not good enough.

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

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

But an economy for everyone means more than great education.

It also means reforming the welfare system.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Third, we need an economy equipped for the future.

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

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

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

The biggest investment in road since the 1970s.

The biggest rail investment since Victorian times.

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

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

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

But, let me tell you this.

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

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

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

That requires a fundamental culture change in our country.

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

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

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

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

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

We are backing innovative industries that will revolutionise world markets.

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

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

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

And yes, supported abroad.

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

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

And I want us to build on that.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A state we can afford.

An economy where everyone can take part.

An economy equipped for the future.

And an economy based on enterprise at home and abroad.

That’s how we build something better.

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

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

But with confidence.

Confident in the belief that Britain can come through stronger.

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

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

David Cameron – 2013 Speech to the CBI

davidcameron

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS:

Question

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

Prime Minister

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

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

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

Question

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

Prime Minister

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

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

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

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

Question

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

Prime Minister

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

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

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

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

Question

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

Prime Minister

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

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

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

Question

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

Prime Minister

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

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

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

Question

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

Prime Minister

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

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

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

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

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

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

Question

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

Prime Minister

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

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

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

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

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

David Cameron – 2013 European Council Statement

davidcameron

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

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

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

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

Let me turn to last week’s European Council.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Let me briefly say a word about each.

Cutting red tape

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

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

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

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

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

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

Trade and the single market

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

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

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

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

But the Council rejected this idea.

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

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

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

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

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

Defending Britain’s interests as the Eurozone integrates further

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Intelligence agencies

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

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

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

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

Our agencies operate under the law.

And their work is overseen by Intelligence Commissioners.

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

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

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

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

There were guilty pleas in each case.

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

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

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

Some have given their lives in this service.

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

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

These silent heroes and heroines are keeping our country safe.

They deserve our wholehearted support.

And I commend this Statement to the House.

David Cameron – 2013 Speech at Eid al-Adha Reception

davidcameron

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thank you.

David Cameron – 2013 Conservative Party Conference Speech

davidcameron

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

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

Helping young people buy their own home.

Getting the long-term unemployed back to work.

Freezing fuel duty.

Backing marriage.

Cutting the deficit.

Creating jobs.

Creating wealth.

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

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

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

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

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

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

The deficit is falling.

Our economy is growing.

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

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

But, my friends, we are on our way.

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

You. The British people.

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

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

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

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

Is that enough?

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

Is it enough to just fix what went wrong?

I say – no. Not for me.

This isn’t job done; it is job begun.

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

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

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

…aspiration, opportunity…

…these are our words, our dreams.

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

…I believe it is the great Conservative mission…

… that as our economy starts to recover…

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

Now, I know, it’ll be tough.

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

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

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

Well – Theresa knew otherwise…

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

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

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

Well – we knew otherwise.

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

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

And by the way – who presided over Mid Staffs…

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

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

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

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

And some people say a lot of things on Europe.

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

You’ll never cut the Budget.

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

Well we’ve proved them wrong.

I vetoed that treaty…

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

…and yes – I cut that budget.

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

That is what we will do…

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

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

BRITAIN IN THE WORLD

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

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

Really?

Let me just get this off my chest.

When the world wanted rights, who wrote Magna Carta?

When they wanted representation, who built the first Parliament?

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

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

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

And today – whose music do they dance to?

Whose universities do they flock to?

Whose football league do they watch?

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

…whose example do they aspire to?

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

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

…so yes, we may be a small island…

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

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

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

I’m sorry – but I don’t agree.

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

The role we play, the organisations we belong to…

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

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

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

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

…then combatting international terrorism – it matters to us.

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

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

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

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

…England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland.

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

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

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

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

…and it’s this:

We want you to stay.

We want to stick together.

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

The nations – as one.

Our Kingdom – United.

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

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

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

More than a decade of war.

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

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

THATCHER

We in this room are a team.

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

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

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

I asked her about her record once.

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

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

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

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

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

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

LABOUR’S MESS

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

…and so did we.

We will never forget what we found.

The biggest Budget deficit in our peace-time history.

The deepest recession since the Second World War.

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

…it was who got hurt.

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

The richest paying lower tax rates than their cleaners.

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

The North falling further behind.

Towns where a quarter of people lived on benefits.

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

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

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

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

That was it.

That was what they left.

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

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

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

OUR MISSION

These past few years have been a real struggle.

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

And here’s the honest answer.

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

Finishing the job means understanding this.

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

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

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

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

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

We are still spending more than we earn.

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

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

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

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

…and how it affects the cost of living…

…just go and ask the Greeks.

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

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

…as George said in that brilliant speech on Monday.

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

It would put us back to square one.

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

How did they get us into this mess?

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

And what did they propose last week?

More spending, more borrowing, more debt.

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

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

It means building something better in its place.

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

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

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

Our economy, our society, welfare, schools…

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

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

For all.

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

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

That’s what the land of opportunity means.

That’s what finishing the job means.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

…you help them by pushing them hard.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

…patiently, practically, painstakingly.

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

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

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

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

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

ECONOMY

A land of opportunity starts in our economy.

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

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

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

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

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

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

No – those countries are becoming our customers…

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

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

The plain fact is this.

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

They could go to Silicon Valley. To Berlin.

And yes, here in Manchester.

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

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

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

Do you get that, Labour?

British people don’t get those jobs.

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

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

I get to visit some amazing factories in my job.

One of my favourites is Jaguar Land Rover…

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

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

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

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

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

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

But it’s crazy for our country.

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

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

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

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

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

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

…checking and double checking whether the numbers stack up…

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

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

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

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

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

And it’s working.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I met a couple on Sunday – Emily and James.

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

And let me tell you where I met them.

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

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

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

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

That is what we’re about…

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

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

…the most important thing of all…

…more money in their pockets.

These have been difficult years.

People have found it hard to make ends meet.

That’s why we’ve frozen council tax…

…and why we are freezing fuel duty.

But we need to do more. I know that.

 

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

 

Taxes on banks they want to spend ten times over.

 

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

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

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

Red Ed and his Blue Peter economy.

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

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

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

…and yes – cut people’s taxes.

I want people to keep more of their money.

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

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

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

NORTH SOUTH

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

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

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

The fact is this.

The West Coast mainline is almost full.

We have to build a new railway…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

…we are the party of the future.

We’re making progress.

You know how I know that?

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

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

…and all with such glee.

But recently, it’s gone a bit quiet.

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

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

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

…jobs are up…

…construction is up…

…manufacturing is up…

…inward investment…

…retail sales…

…homebuilding…

…business confidence…

…consumer confidence – all these things are up.

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

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

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

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

…not bad for a nation of shop-keepers.

And that’s the point.

Exports to China are up…

Exports to Brazil are up…

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

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

Yes – the oceans can rise…

…and empires can fall…

…but one thing will never, ever change…

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

EDUCATION

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

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

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

We need these children – and frankly they need us.

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

…Michael Gove, there he is…

…with a belief in excellence and massive energy…

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

Let’s look at the results.

More students studying proper science.

More children learning a foreign language.

We’ve ended the dumbing down in exams.

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

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

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

But ultimately – really raising standards means innovation, choice…

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

That’s what Free Schools are all about.

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

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

…proper uniforms, high standards…

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

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

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

You want to know something totally extraordinary about free schools?

Labour’s official policy is to be against them…

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

And not just any Labour MPs.

I promise I’m not making this up..

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

Unbelievable.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

…and where their cries of pain go unheard.

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

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

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

4000 children adopted…

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

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

I have to make some tough decisions in my job…

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

Social work is a noble and vital calling.

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

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

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

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

WELFARE

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

We know how badly things went wrong.

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

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

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

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

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

And let’s be absolutely clear.

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

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

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

Capping immigration. Clamping down on the bogus colleges.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Immigration has come down.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It’s time for bold action here.

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

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

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

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

And let no one paint ideas like this as callous.

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

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

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

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

…but remember: we are giving people real opportunities.

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

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

This is what our Party is all about.

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

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

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

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

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

…Yes – the land of despair was Labour…

…but the land of hope is Tory.

We have done some big things to transform Britain.

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

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

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

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

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

And let me tell everyone here what that means.

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

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

CONCLUSION

You don’t do this job to be popular.

You do it because you love your country.

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

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

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

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

In the 19th century, those beams needed replacing.

And you know what they found?

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

…so they planted some oak trees.

Just think about that.

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

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

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

That is what we are doing today.

Not just making do and mending…

…but making something better.

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

Children of wealth – and children of none.

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

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

…a land of opportunity.

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

A new economy.

A new welfare system.

A new set of values in our schools.

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

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

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

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

Because we always have before.

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

…the improbable hero of history…

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

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

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

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

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

These are the people we have alongside us…

…together we’ve made it this far…

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

…together we’ll build that land of opportunity.

David Cameron – 2013 Interview on Syria

davidcameron

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

Question

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

Prime Minister

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

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

Question

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

Prime Minister

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

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

Question

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

Prime Minister

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

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

Interviewer

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

Prime Minister

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

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

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

David Cameron – 2013 Speech at Siemens

davidcameron

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

Prime Minister

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

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

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

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

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

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

Question

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

Prime Minister

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

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

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

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

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

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

Question

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

Prime Minister

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

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

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

Question

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

Prime Minister

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

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

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

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

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

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

Question

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

Prime Minister

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

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

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

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

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

Question

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

Prime Minister

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

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

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

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

Question

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

Prime Minister

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

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

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

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

Question

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

Prime Minister

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

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

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

Question

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

Prime Minister

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

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

Question

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

Prime Minister

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

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

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

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

Question

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

Prime Minister

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

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

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

Question

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

Prime Minister

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Question

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

Prime Minister

Yes, that is a very important question. It’s one of the – one of the biggest responsibilities of the Prime Minister; I am effectively the Minister for the Intelligence Services. And I think it’s very important to understand what they do, to try and explain to the British public what they do and why it’s so important.

So I think first of all, sort of stand back and look at the threats that we face. You know, we saw what happened in America on 9/11, we saw what happened here, 7/7, we know what threats we can face. Every year since I’ve been Prime Minister, our intelligence services have uncovered and prevented at least one major plot every year that could have been a mass casualty event.

So we are dealing with a very serious issue: our national security. And I think it’s very important that we have well funded security services – GCHQ that deals with communications, MI5, which is the domestic security service, and MI6, which deals with overseas intelligence – that we have them well funded, well organised but, crucially, within the law.

There are acts of parliament that determine what they are allowed to do and what they’re not allowed to do. And they’re overseen by a now much strengthened, intelligence and security committee that sits in parliament, that is headed by Sir Malcolm Rifkind, a former Foreign Secretary, that can examine all the work that they do.

And I’m satisfied that they act within the law. And I’m also satisfied, because this was important in the issues that came up, that they are not using their cooperation with foreign intelligence services to somehow get round the law; they’re not using data garnered from overseas to get round the restrictions that there are in the UK. And I think that’s vitally important. I mean, if you want me to say more I will.

Very simply put, because I think it’s quite reassuring when you hear this, if the police or intelligence service want to know the detail about a bit of communications, i.e. a mobile phone call that Mr A makes to Mr B. If they want to know simply who made the call, where were they, what was the time of the call or who were they calling, that so-called communications data, there is a legal process they have to go through to access that data. So there’s a legal process. But it is very important they can access that. Think of how many murders, rapes, abductions, terrorist investigations, you know… Almost all serious crime, the police will use communications data – the, ‘who called who, when and where?’ – they’ll use that data in the investigation. So it’s very important they have access to that data, all done legally.

That shouldn’t be confused with the content of communications, i.e. what Mr A said to Mr B. Now if the intelligence services want to listen to that they have to have a signed warrant by the Home Secretary. So that’s quite a high bar. So I’m very satisfied, and I’ve simplified it, but I’m very satisfied that garnering information about the data, who called who and when, and garnering information about the content are very strictly controlled in Britain. But do I think it’s important that we have security services, that they can do those things in order to keep us safe? Absolutely I do.

And I see at first hand these very brave people, who never get thanked because we’re not really allowed to know who they all are, working round the clock to keep us safe from very dangerous people who do us harm. So, nothing in the world is ever perfect, but I would argue we have a good system, well run, that we can be proud of in Britain, that helps to keep us safe.

Question

I’m from the Siemens Commercial Academy, which takes students from sixth form straight into full-time employment and funds your degree as well. This year, sadly, we’ve had to drop the degree because of the rise of university fees, which has resulted in the loss of applicants to our scheme. Are you trying to deter young people from going to university and getting a higher degree, a higher education, even given the state of, like, the unemployment in the young?

Prime Minister

That’s a very good question. The answer is: no we are absolutely not trying to deter young people to go to university. And, in fact, recently the numbers of young people applying has actually been increasing rather than falling.

But there is a big issue here which is how do we pay for good universities? It goes back to my argument: if we are going to be a winner in the global race, if we are going to be a success as a country, we’ve got to have good universities with well paid tutors, well stocked libraries, really great technical labs. That costs money. And the only two places you can get it from: you can get it from the taxpayer – but the taxpayer has already got to pay for everything else – or you can ask students to pay. So the decision we took was to say to students that we are going to charge you more in fees for your degree. But what we said, absolutely crucially, is you pay nothing up front. There is no up-front payments, and you only start paying it back when you’re earning over £21,000 a year. So it’s actually only better off students, only successful students that are paying back the money. You don’t start paying back in full until you’re earning £35,000.

So, look, it is a tough decision; it is difficult. But what it means is that our universities can continue to expand, our degree courses will be well funded. They’ll be competitive with other countries around the world, because there’s no point having second-rate degrees and second-rate universities. And I think it’s fair because we’re not asking people to pay back until they are earning a decent wage. But I know it is – it is difficult, but I think the evidence is beginning to show, not only, as I said, that numbers applying are looking good, but also the numbers applying from the most deprived backgrounds have increased. And that’s because we’ve put a lot of effort into bursaries and other packages to encourage people to go to university.

But again, a lot of what I have to do is about making tough decisions that are in the long-term interest of the country. And I think this fits squarely into that. And that’s what you have to do in business. Sometimes you have to make difficult decisions for the future of Siemens, for the future of manufacturing. You have to change things. You have to change processes in order to make sure your business goes on and succeeds in the future.

Can I think you again very much for the warm welcome. Thank you for letting me come and see the amazing work that you do here. Can I congratulate you again on 90% of your business being exports, the massive investment you make in young people and the big investment you make in Lincoln. Thank you very much.

David Cameron – 2013 Business in the Community Awards Speech

davidcameron

Below is the speech made by the Prime Minister, David Cameron, to the 2013 Business in the Community Awards held on the 2nd July 2013.

It’s a real pleasure to come and celebrate the work of so many of our leading businesses who are helping to make our country a better place.

Business in the Community are the great champions of this cause.

And it’s absolutely right that they should hold this…

…the Oscars of good, responsible business.

If you want to know why responsible business matters, look at our hosts this evening, Marks and Spencer….

….whose Shwopping scheme, brilliantly advocated by Joanna Lumley, has already raised £2.3 million for Oxfam.

Look at Trading for Good – a new free platform launched today to recognise what smaller businesses are doing in their local communities.

Look at innovative CEOs like Steve Holliday helping companies promote their vacancies to the unemployed…

… or Paul Drechsler showing businesses how to support schools.

And look at the growing number of business connectors…

…people seconded from business working for a year in our communities, to make the links between local business and the local organisations that need the most support.

All of them – and all of you here tonight – are proving two things that I believe very passionately.

The first is that business has a key role to play in building a bigger and stronger society.

The second, that responsible business is good business too.

I am a passionate believer in the free enterprise system.

I believe that starting a business, selling a product or service, turning a profit, investing and building…

…these are good and noble things.

They create the wealth and jobs we need.

But business has the capacity to do even more.

Responsible business can be the greatest force for social progress on the planet.

From worklessness to obesity…

…from the break-up of families to the break-down of communities…

…from environmental damage to economic dislocation…

…I simply cannot think of an area of public policy where the creative thinking of business wouldn’t help in delivering a better outcome.

And if we have learnt anything from the last two decades, it is surely this…

…that we can’t solve our social problems simply by government changing laws or passing down edicts from above.

We need business, charities and individuals to work together with government.

Not just government action but social action.

Not just government responsibility but personal and corporate responsibility.

That’s how we change our country for the better.

So yes, the moral case for responsible business is strong.

But just consider for a moment the economic case.

Let me explain.

Businesses want low taxes, and as little regulation and interference from government as possible.

And this is a government that is determined to do everything possible to achieve that.

That’s why we are cutting the red tape…

…and cutting corporation tax to 20%, the lowest of any major economy in the world.

But the truth is that governments don’t just interfere for the sake of it…

…they do so because there are problems in our society that need government spending to pay for them.

So responsible businesses can help.

You can help us to tackle the crime, the family breakdown, the education failure that causes the demand for public spending – and therefore taxes to rise.

And there is something else you can do.

You can make sure that low taxes are actually paid.

Right now taxes are higher than they need to be because the international tax system doesn’t work.

Some individuals and some companies are able to evade their responsibilities and that makes taxes higher for everyone else.

So when I made tackling tax evasion and aggressive tax avoidance a priority for the G8 in Northern Ireland last month…

…I wasn’t just doing what is right for good government…

…I was doing what is right for good business too.

Now there is one area where I’d like to make a particular plea for business help tonight…

…and that’s supporting our young people.

In the coming months HRH The Prince of Wales is launching a nationwide campaign…

…with the full support of myself, Ed Miliband and Nick Clegg…

…to help young people contribute to their communities through service to others.

From working with groups like the Scouts and Guides who have been leading the way on social action for over a century…

…to new programmes like National Citizen Service…

….the Campaign for Youth Social Action will bring together all the different ways in which young people can give something back to their community.

And it will seek to create a legacy of social action that we can pass down from generation to generation.

National Citizen Service is one of the newest parts of this…

…but it has the potential to be one of the biggest.

You know how it works.

Young people from different backgrounds come together…

…first, for an outdoor challenge that takes them outside their comfort zone and makes them work as teams…

…then living together back in their local area working with local businesses and community leaders to learn new skills…

…and finally making their own mark by planning and delivering a social action project that gives something back to their community.

From the first two years alone, we have 35,000 graduates.

This year we’ll double that.

And over time I want National Citizen Service to become a rite of passage in our country that can give our young people a sense of purpose, optimism and belonging.

But to do that – and to make the Campaign for Youth Social Action a great national project – we will need the help of business.

So I’m delighted that tonight the government is supporting a new award which recognises businesses which support social action for young people…

…and I would ask you all to think about what more you can do.

Because this campaign isn’t about government.

And it isn’t about party politics either.

It’s about how together we help young people understand the value of social responsibility.

It’s about the expectations we set.

The culture we build.

It’s about equipping our young people with the skills and character to work, to contribute, to make our country what it can be.

In short, it’s about our future.

So as the children from Emerald Music School who just performed for us so brilliantly put it: imagine it possible.

And then let’s go and make it so.

Thank you very much for listening.

Congratulations again on all that you are doing to make our country a better place.

And have a great evening.