David Cameron – 2013 Speech at Davos

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Below is the text of the speech made by the Prime Minister, David Cameron, at the World Economic Forum in Davos on 24th January 2013.

It’s the UK’s privilege to host the G8 this year and I want to set out today our main priorities. Now right up there on our agenda is of course tackling the threat of extremism and terrorist violence that we’ve seen erupt in Mali and in that despicable attack in Algeria.

I’ll put my cards on the table, I believe we are in the midst of a long struggle against murderous terrorists and a poisonous ideology that supports them. Just as we’ve successfully put pressure on al-Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan, so al-Qaeda franchises have been growing for years in Yemen, in Somalia and across parts of North Africa, places that have suffered hideously through hostage taking, terrorism and crime.

Now to defeat this menace we’ve got to be tough, we’ve got to be intelligent and we’ve got to be patient, and this is the argument I’ll be making at the G8. Let me be again absolutely clear, there is a place for a tough security approach including at times military action where necessary. The French are right to act in Mali and I backed that action, not just with words, but with logistical support too. But we need to combine a tough security response with an intelligent political response. We need to address that poisonous narrative that the terrorists feed on. We need to close down the ungoverned space in which they thrive and, yes, we need to deal with the grievances that they use to garner support.

Now this means using everything at our disposal: our diplomatic networks, our aid budgets, our political relations, our military and security cooperation and yes, supporting – in those countries and elsewhere – the building blocks of democracy, like the rule of law and a free media. The Arab Spring remains part of the solution, not part of the problem.

Now I want to open up a new debate too in how we share the burden of meeting this threat. The G8 can help discuss how we can best divide up some of this work between us and how we can each individually partner-up with the countries worst affected to overcome this threat and, like I say, this is going to be right up there on our agenda for the G8.

But today I want to focus on our economic priorities, because for all the countries in the G8 and all the countries across the European Union there is a big, looming insistent question, and that is how do we compete and succeed in the global economic race that we are engaged in today.

How do we succeed when other nations are growing, changing, innovating so fast? Now a lot of the answers are clear. You’ve got to deal with your debts, you’ve got to cut business taxes, you’ve got to tackle the bloat in welfare, and crucially you’ve got to make sure your schools and your universities are truly world class.

Now back in the UK we’ve been doing all of these things. Less than three years in and this government has cut the deficit by a quarter; our corporation tax rate is the lowest in the G7. In welfare reform we’ve been radical, in education almost revolutionary – busting open the state monopoly of education and allowing new Free Schools to start up, and crucially to compete in this global race. We are making sure that the United Kingdom is more outward looking than ever before.

Now yesterday I gave a speech setting out the UK’s place in Europe.

This is not about turning our backs on Europe – quite the opposite. This is about how we make the case for a more competitive, a more open, a more flexible Europe and how we secure the UK’s place within it. This is how I see it. Just over half of the EU countries are in the single currency, in the Euro. When you have a single currency you move inexorably towards a banking union, towards forms of fiscal union and that has huge implications for countries like the UK who are not in the Euro and frankly are never likely to join. The club we belong to is changing. We can’t ignore this: change is underway and the debate about what this means, it is live, it is happening right now.

And as I said yesterday consent in the United Kingdom for the steps that have already been taken is wafer thin.

Now some just say well let these events unfold naturally. I say no. We should try and shape them in the UK’s national interest. Let us negotiate a new settlement for Europe that works for the UK and let’s get fresh consent for it. And it’s not just right for the United Kingdom, it is necessary for Europe. Europe is being out competed, out invested, out innovated and it is time we made the European Union an engine for growth, not a source of cost for business and complaint from our citizens.

So I want the UK to look out, not in, and that is why for the first time in a decade UK foreign policy is on the advance. By 2015 we will have opened up twenty new diplomatic posts around the world, employed three hundred extra staff in the fastest growing regions of the world. We are having to make cuts in the UK, but this is something we are not cutting, we’re expanding. We’re now one of only three European countries to be represented in every single country in ASEAN and we have the largest diplomatic network in India of any developed nation. We are a global nation with global interests and a global reach, and if you think all of this is somehow an unashamed advert for the UK and UK business you’re absolutely right. Everything I do is about making sure we’re not just competing in that global race, but we’re succeeding in it.

But my argument today, the argument I want to make in front of you and the idea that the G8 will be driving forward this year, is that competing in the global race is not just about what we do at home, it is about the wider economy we’ll operate in, the rules that shape it, the fairness and the openness that characterise it. We need more free trade. We need fairer tax systems. We need more transparency on how governments and, yes, companies operate.

Let me tell you why. It’s the oldest observation of the modern age that we are all interconnected. Communication is faster than ever, finance is more mobile than ever and yet the paradox of this open world is that in many ways it’s still so closed and so secretive. It’s a world where trade is still choked off by barriers and bureaucracy. It’s a world where some companies navigate their way around legitimate tax systems and even low tax rates with an army of clever accountants. It’s a world where, regrettably, corrupt government officials in some countries and some corporations run rings around the letter and the spirit of the law to rip off hard working people and to plunder their natural resources.

There is a long and tragic history of some African countries being stripped of their minerals behind a veil of secrecy. We can see the results: the government cronies get rich, some beyond their wildest dreams of avarice, while the people in those countries stay poor.

So it is clear how devastating this can be for some developing countries. But frankly all this matters, and should matter, to developed countries too. When trade isn’t free, we all suffer. When some businesses aren’t seen to pay their taxes, that is corrosive to the public trust. When shadowy companies don’t play by the rules, that drives more box ticking, more regulation, more interference and that makes life harder for other businesses to turn a profit. That is why I want this year’s G8 to bring a new focus on these issues: trade, tax, transparency. Those are the issues we are going to be driving for this year.

So first we’re going to push for more openness on trade. In late 2008 we saw the steepest fall in global trade ever and the deepest since the Great Depression, and more than four years on trade has still not fully recovered. Now this should be at the forefront of the mind of every leader, every diplomat during those long negotiations on trade; and there’s an enormous amount on the table today. You’ve got the US leading efforts on the Trans Pacific Partnership. In the European Union we’re about to embark on our biggest-ever programme of free trade agreement negotiations. We’ve got parameters for a deal with Singapore, negotiations with Canada nearly complete, and we’re about to launch negotiations with Japan, and of course there’s the beginning of negotiations on an EU-US trade deal. Now the EU and the US together, we actually make up about a third of all global trade. A deal between us could add over fifty billion pounds to the EU economy alone. Agreeing all the EU deals on the table could increase our GDP by two per cent and create over two million jobs across the European Union.

Trade between developing countries and within Africa is growing and we should work to encourage that further – and we must also continue to support the multilateral system. This means working through the WTO to agree a deal to sweep away trade bureaucracy at the ministerial conference in Bali this December. That alone could be worth around seventy billion dollars to the global economy and help trade to flow freely across the world. It is ambitious, but we must seize these opportunities to give a massive boost to free trade across the world.

Now the next T is tax. We want to use the G8 to drive a more serious debate on tax evasion and tax avoidance. This is an issue whose time has come. After years of abuse people across the planet are rightly calling for more action, and most importantly there is gathering political will to actually do something about it.

Again let me put my cards squarely on the table. Of course there is a difference between tax evasion and tax avoidance. Evasion is illegal. It can and should be subject to the full force of the criminal law. But what about tax avoidance? Now of course there’s nothing wrong with sensible tax planning and there are some things that governments want people to do that reduce tax bills, such as investing in a pension, a start up business or giving money to a charity. But there are some forms of avoidance that have become so aggressive that I think it is right to say these raise ethical issues, and it is time to call for more responsibility and for governments to act accordingly.

In the UK we’ve already committed hundreds of millions into this effort, but acting alone has its limits. Clamp down in one country and the travelling caravan of lawyers, accountants and financial gurus will just move on elsewhere. So we need to act together, including at the G8. If there are difficult questions about whether existing standards are tough enough to tackle avoidance we need to ask them. If there are options for more multilateral deals on automatic information exchange to catch tax evaders we need to explore them.

And we want to work with developing countries on this too. The fact is, the poorer the nation, the more they need the tax revenues – but often the weaker the capacity they have to collect them. But we must not let them off the hook; it can be done. The UK has worked with the Ethiopian authorities to help with tax collection, and in the last decade the amount of tax collected has increased by seven times. All of this in developed and developing countries alike comes down to a simple issue of fairness.

I believe in low taxes, that is why my government is cutting the top rate of income tax, we’ve cut corporation tax. [Delete – political].

Individuals and businesses must pay their fair share. And businesses who think they can carry on dodging that fair share, or that they can keep on selling to the UK and setting up ever more complex tax arrangements abroad to squeeze their tax bills right down, well they need to wake up and smell the coffee, because the public who buy from them have had enough.

And let’s be clear: speaking out on these things is not anti capitalism, it is not anti business. If you want to keep tax rates low you’ve got to keep taxes coming in – put simply: no tax base, no low tax case. You need to have that base in order to deliver the low taxes that businesses and competitive economies need. This is the argument that’s been made brilliantly by the economist Paul Collier and I’m delighted that he’s been advising my government ahead of this G8. This is about me and all the other G8 leaders being able to look our people in the eye and say that when they work hard and pay their fair share of taxes we will make sure that others do so as well.

Now the third big push on our agenda is transparency: shining a light on company ownership, land ownership and where money flows from and to.

This is critical to developing countries. Of course aid has played, and will continue to play, an important role in development, and I’m proud that the UK is keeping its aid promises. I’m also proud that we are leading the fight on global hunger, funding nutrition programmes for twenty million children and pregnant women over the next few years.

There should be, there will be, and I will back a major push on tackling global hunger, under-nutrition and stunting this year. And I applaud the NGOs, the charities, the organisations that are motivating public opinion, business opinion, world opinion on this absolutely vital issue.

But at the same time as talking about aid we also need to move the debate on so we’re not just dealing with the symptoms of poverty but we’re tackling the causes. Now I’ve argued for years that there is a golden thread of conditions that enable open economies and open societies to thrive. The rule of law, the absence of conflict and corruption, the presence of property rights and strong institutions: these things are vital for countries to move from poverty to wealth.

And now as the co-chair of the UN High Level Panel, and with the presidency of the G8, there is a chance to put turbo boosters under this agenda, and I’m determined to seize that chance.

I want this G8 to lead a big push for transparency across the developing world, and to illustrate why let me give you one example. A few years back a transparency initiative exposed a huge hole in Nigeria’s finances, an eight hundred million dollar discrepancy between what companies were paying and what the government was receiving for oil – a massive, massive gap. The discovery of this is leading to new regulation of Nigeria’s oil sector so the richness of the earth can actually help to enrich the people of that country.

And the potential is staggering. Last year Nigeria oil exports were worth almost a hundred billion dollars. That is more than the total net aid to the whole of sub Saharan Africa. So put simply: unleashing the natural resources in these countries dwarfs anything aid can achieve, and transparency is absolutely critical to that end. So we’re going to push for more transparency on who owns companies; on who’s buying up land and for what purpose; on how governments spend their money; on how gas, oil and mining companies operate; and on who is hiding stolen assets and how we recover and return them. Like everything else in this G8, the ambitions are big and I make no apology for that.

Thirty years ago more than half of our planet lived on the equivalent of one dollar twenty five a day or less; today it’s not one half, it is one fifth. This is an amazing story of human progress and it shows what is possible. We can be the generation that eradicates absolute poverty in our world, but we’ll only achieve that if we break the vicious cycle and treat the causes of poverty and not just its symptoms.

So let me end today by saying this: I know that some people might be thinking he’s talking about cracking down on tax avoidance, talking about making companies be more transparent – doesn’t this sound like an anti-business, bash the rich, tax success agenda? Absolutely not. This is a resolutely pro-business agenda. I’m about the most pro-business leader you can find. I yield to no-one in my enthusiasm for capitalism.

It is an economic system that generated more wealth, unleashed more human potential and reduced more grinding poverty than any other in history. I don’t believe that one person’s wealth fairly gained through free exchange in an open market is somehow the cause of another person’s poverty. I will have no truck with those who want to demonise the successful, to level down rather than to build up, or to those who seek continually to turn the word profit in to a dirty word.

But I also passionately believe that if you want open economies, low taxes and free enterprise then you need to lay down the rules of the game and you need to be prepared to enforce them. Poor business practice doesn’t operate in a vacuum: it hurts the good. When one company doesn’t pay the taxes they owe then other companies end up paying more. When some cowboys play the system all businesses suffer from the fallout to their reputation – that is why it’s not just those in the NGOs who’ve been lobbying my government on these issues, it’s those in the high rises in the City of London: bankers, lawyers, senior figures in finance. They’ve told us to pursue this agenda hard and that is exactly what we’re going to do.

This is a vision of proper companies, proper taxes, proper rules. A vision of open societies, open economies and open government and we are going to work with our partners in the G8 to achieve it for the good of the people right across the world. Thank you very much indeed for listening.

David Cameron – 2013 Speech on the European Union

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Below is the text of the speech made by the Prime Minister, David Cameron, at Bloomburg on 23rd January 2013.

This morning I want to talk about the future of Europe.

But first, let us remember the past.

Seventy years ago, Europe was being torn apart by its second catastrophic conflict in a generation. A war which saw the streets of European cities strewn with rubble. The skies of London lit by flames night after night. And millions dead across the world in the battle for peace and liberty.

As we remember their sacrifice, so we should also remember how the shift in Europe from war to sustained peace came about. It did not happen like a change in the weather. It happened because of determined work over generations. A commitment to friendship and a resolve never to re-visit that dark past – a commitment epitomised by the Elysee Treaty signed 50 years ago this week.

After the Berlin Wall came down I visited that city and I will never forget it.

The abandoned checkpoints. The sense of excitement about the future. The knowledge that a great continent was coming together. Healing those wounds of our history is the central story of the European Union.

What Churchill described as the twin marauders of war and tyranny have been almost entirely banished from our continent. Today, hundreds of millions dwell in freedom, from the Baltic to the Adriatic, from the Western Approaches to the Aegean.

And while we must never take this for granted, the first purpose of the European Union – to secure peace – has been achieved and we should pay tribute to all those in the EU, alongside NATO, who made that happen.

But today the main, over-riding purpose of the European Union is different: not to win peace, but to secure prosperity.

The challenges come not from within this continent but outside it. From the surging economies in the East and South. Of course a growing world economy benefits us all, but we should be in no doubt that a new global race of nations is underway today.

A race for the wealth and jobs of the future.

The map of global influence is changing before our eyes. And these changes are already being felt by the entrepreneur in the Netherlands, the worker in Germany, the family in Britain.

Deliver prosperity, retain support

So I want to speak to you today with urgency and frankness about the European Union and how it must change – both to deliver prosperity and to retain the support of its peoples.

But first, I want to set out the spirit in which I approach these issues.

I know that the United Kingdom is sometimes seen as an argumentative and rather strong-minded member of the family of European nations.

And it’s true that our geography has shaped our psychology.

We have the character of an island nation – independent, forthright, passionate in defence of our sovereignty.

We can no more change this British sensibility than we can drain the English Channel.

And because of this sensibility, we come to the European Union with a frame of mind that is more practical than emotional.

For us, the European Union is a means to an end – prosperity, stability, the anchor of freedom and democracy both within Europe and beyond her shores – not an end in itself.

We insistently ask: How? Why? To what end?

But all this doesn’t make us somehow un-European.

The fact is that ours is not just an island story – it is also a continental story.

For all our connections to the rest of the world – of which we are rightly proud – we have always been a European power – and we always will be.

From Caesar’s legions to the Napoleonic Wars. From the Reformation, the Enlightenment and the Industrial Revolution to the defeat of Nazism. We have helped to write European history, and Europe has helped write ours.

Over the years, Britain has made her own, unique contribution to Europe. We have provided a haven to those fleeing tyranny and persecution. And in Europe’s darkest hour, we helped keep the flame of liberty alight. Across the continent, in silent cemeteries, lie the hundreds of thousands of British servicemen who gave their lives for Europe’s freedom.

In more recent decades, we have played our part in tearing down the Iron Curtain and championing the entry into the EU of those countries that lost so many years to Communism. And contained in this history is the crucial point about Britain, our national character, our attitude to Europe.

Britain is characterised not just by its independence but, above all, by its openness.

We have always been a country that reaches out. That turns its face to the world…

That leads the charge in the fight for global trade and against protectionism.

This is Britain today, as it’s always been:Independent, yes – but open, too.

I never want us to pull up the drawbridge and retreat from the world.

I am not a British isolationist.

I don’t just want a better deal for Britain. I want a better deal for Europe too.

So I speak as British Prime Minister with a positive vision for the future of the European Union. A future in which Britain wants, and should want, to play a committed and active part.

Some might then ask: why raise fundamental questions about the future of Europe when Europe is already in the midst of a deep crisis?

Why raise questions about Britain’s role when support in Britain is already so thin.

There are always voices saying “don’t ask the difficult questions.”

Three major challenges

But it’s essential for Europe – and for Britain – that we do because there are three major challenges confronting us today.

First, the problems in the Eurozone are driving fundamental change in Europe.

Second, there is a crisis of European competitiveness, as other nations across the world soar ahead. And third, there is a gap between the EU and its citizens which has grown dramatically in recent years. And which represents a lack of democratic accountability and consent that is – yes – felt particularly acutely in Britain.

If we don’t address these challenges, the danger is that Europe will fail and the British people will drift towards the exit.

I do not want that to happen. I want the European Union to be a success. And I want a relationship between Britain and the EU that keeps us in it.

That is why I am here today: To acknowledge the nature of the challenges we face. To set out how I believe the European Union should respond to them. And to explain what I want to achieve for Britain and its place within the European Union.

Let me start with the nature of the challenges we face.

First, the Eurozone.

The future shape of Europe is being forged. There are some serious questions that will define the future of the European Union – and the future of every country within it.

The Union is changing to help fix the currency – and that has profound implications for all of us, whether we are in the single currency or not.

Britain is not in the single currency, and we’re not going to be. But we all need the Eurozone to have the right governance and structures to secure a successful currency for the long term.

And those of us outside the Eurozone also need certain safeguards to ensure, for example, that our access to the Single Market is not in any way compromised.

And it’s right we begin to address these issues now.

Second, while there are some countries within the EU which are doing pretty well. Taken as a whole, Europe’s share of world output is projected to fall by almost a third in the next two decades. This is the competitiveness challenge – and much of our weakness in meeting it is self-inflicted.

Complex rules restricting our labour markets are not some naturally occurring phenomenon. Just as excessive regulation is not some external plague that’s been visited on our businesses.

These problems have been around too long. And the progress in dealing with them, far too slow.

As Chancellor Merkel has said – if Europe today accounts for just over 7 per cent of the world’s population, produces around 25 per cent of global GDP and has to finance 50 per cent of global social spending, then it’s obvious that it will have to work very hard to maintain its prosperity and way of life.

Third, there is a growing frustration that the EU is seen as something that is done to people rather than acting on their behalf. And this is being intensified by the very solutions required to resolve the economic problems.

People are increasingly frustrated that decisions taken further and further away from them mean their living standards are slashed through enforced austerity or their taxes are used to bail out governments on the other side of the continent.

We are starting to see this in the demonstrations on the streets of Athens, Madrid and Rome. We are seeing it in the parliaments of Berlin, Helsinki and the Hague.

And yes, of course, we are seeing this frustration with the EU very dramatically in Britain.

Europe’s leaders have a duty to hear these concerns. Indeed, we have a duty to act on them. And not just to fix the problems in the Eurozone.

For just as in any emergency you should plan for the aftermath as well as dealing with the present crisis so too in the midst of the present challenges we should plan for the future, and what the world will look like when the difficulties in the Eurozone have been overcome.

The biggest danger to the European Union comes not from those who advocate change, but from those who denounce new thinking as heresy. In its long history Europe has experience of heretics who turned out to have a point.

And my point is this. More of the same will not secure a long-term future for the Eurozone. More of the same will not see the European Union keeping pace with the new powerhouse economies. More of the same will not bring the European Union any closer to its citizens. More of the same will just produce more of the same – less competitiveness, less growth, fewer jobs.

And that will make our countries weaker not stronger.

That is why we need fundamental, far-reaching change.

21st century European Union

So let me set out my vision for a new European Union, fit for the 21st Century.

It is built on five principles.

The first: competitiveness. At the core of the European Union must be, as it is now, the single market. Britain is at the heart of that Single Market, and must remain so.

But when the Single Market remains incomplete in services, energy and digital – the very sectors that are the engines of a modern economy – it is only half the success it could be.

It is nonsense that people shopping online in some parts of Europe are unable to access the best deals because of where they live. I want completing the single market to be our driving mission.

I want us to be at the forefront of transformative trade deals with the US, Japan and India as part of the drive towards global free trade. And I want us to be pushing to exempt Europe’s smallest entrepreneurial companies from more EU Directives.

These should be the tasks that get European officials up in the morning – and keep them working late into the night. And so we urgently need to address the sclerotic, ineffective decision making that is holding us back.

That means creating a leaner, less bureaucratic Union, relentlessly focused on helping its member countries to compete.

In a global race, can we really justify the huge number of expensive peripheral European institutions?

Can we justify a Commission that gets ever larger?

Can we carry on with an organisation that has a multi-billion pound budget but not enough focus on controlling spending and shutting down programmes that haven’t worked?

And I would ask: when the competitiveness of the Single Market is so important, why is there an environment council, a transport council, an education council but not a single market council?

The second principle should be flexibility.

We need a structure that can accommodate the diversity of its members – North, South, East, West, large, small, old and new. Some of whom are contemplating much closer economic and political integration. And many others, including Britain, who would never embrace that goal.

I accept, of course, that for the single market to function we need a common set of rules and a way of enforcing them. But we also need to be able to respond quickly to the latest developments and trends.

Competitiveness demands flexibility, choice and openness – or Europe will fetch up in a no-man’s land between the rising economies of Asia and market-driven North America.

The EU must be able to act with the speed and flexibility of a network, not the cumbersome rigidity of a bloc.

We must not be weighed down by an insistence on a one size fits all approach which implies that all countries want the same level of integration. The fact is that they don’t and we shouldn’t assert that they do.

Some will claim that this offends a central tenet of the EU’s founding philosophy. I say it merely reflects the reality of the European Union today. 17 members are part of the Eurozone. 10 are not.

26 European countries are members of Schengen – including four outside the European Union – Switzerland, Norway, Liechtenstein and Iceland. 2 EU countries – Britain and Ireland – have retained their border controls.

Some members, like Britain and France, are ready, willing and able to take action in Libya or Mali. Others are uncomfortable with the use of military force.

Let’s welcome that diversity, instead of trying to snuff it out.

Let’s stop all this talk of two-speed Europe, of fast lanes and slow lanes, of countries missing trains and buses, and consign the whole weary caravan of metaphors to a permanent siding.

Instead, let’s start from this proposition: we are a family of democratic nations, all members of one European Union, whose essential foundation is the single market rather than the single currency. Those of us outside the euro recognise that those in it are likely to need to make some big institutional changes.

By the same token, the members of the Eurozone should accept that we, and indeed all Member States, will have changes that we need to safeguard our interests and strengthen democratic legitimacy. And we should be able to make these changes too.

Some say this will unravel the principle of the EU – and that you can’t pick and choose on the basis of what your nation needs.

But far from unravelling the EU, this will in fact bind its Members more closely because such flexible, willing cooperation is a much stronger glue than compulsion from the centre.

Let me make a further heretical proposition.

The European Treaty commits the Member States to “lay the foundations of an ever closer union among the peoples of Europe”.

This has been consistently interpreted as applying not to the peoples but rather to the states and institutions compounded by a European Court of Justice that has consistently supported greater centralisation.

We understand and respect the right of others to maintain their commitment to this goal. But for Britain – and perhaps for others – it is not the objective.

And we would be much more comfortable if the Treaty specifically said so freeing those who want to go further, faster, to do so, without being held back by the others.

So to those who say we have no vision for Europe.

I say we have.

Flexible union

We believe in a flexible union of free member states who share treaties and institutions and pursue together the ideal of co-operation. To represent and promote the values of European civilisation in the world. To advance our shared interests by using our collective power to open markets. And to build a strong economic base across the whole of Europe.

And we believe in our nations working together to protect the security and diversity of our energy supplies. To tackle climate change and global poverty. To work together against terrorism and organised crime. And to continue to welcome new countries into the EU.

This vision of flexibility and co-operation is not the same as those who want to build an ever closer political union – but it is just as valid.

My third principle is that power must be able to flow back to Member States, not just away from them. This was promised by European Leaders at Laeken a decade ago.

It was put in the Treaty. But the promise has never really been fulfilled. We need to implement this principle properly.

So let us use this moment, as the Dutch Prime Minister has recently suggested, to examine thoroughly what the EU as a whole should do and should stop doing.

In Britain we have already launched our balance of competences review – to give us an informed and objective analysis of where the EU helps and where it hampers.

Let us not be misled by the fallacy that a deep and workable single market requires everything to be harmonised, to hanker after some unattainable and infinitely level playing field.

Countries are different. They make different choices. We cannot harmonise everything. For example, it is neither right nor necessary to claim that the integrity of the single market, or full membership of the European Union requires the working hours of British hospital doctors to be set in Brussels irrespective of the views of British parliamentarians and practitioners.

In the same way we need to examine whether the balance is right in so many areas where the European Union has legislated including on the environment, social affairs and crime.

Nothing should be off the table.

My fourth principle is democratic accountability: we need to have a bigger and more significant role for national parliaments.

There is not, in my view, a single European demos.

It is national parliaments, which are, and will remain, the true source of real democratic legitimacy and accountability in the EU.

It is to the Bundestag that Angela Merkel has to answer. It is through the Greek Parliament that Antonis Samaras has to pass his Government’s austerity measures.

It is to the British Parliament that I must account on the EU budget negotiations, or on the safeguarding of our place in the single market.

Those are the Parliaments which instil proper respect – even fear – into national leaders.

We need to recognise that in the way the EU does business.

My fifth principle is fairness: whatever new arrangements are enacted for the Eurozone, they must work fairly for those inside it and out.

That will be of particular importance to Britain. As I have said, we will not join the single currency. But there is no overwhelming economic reason why the single currency and the single market should share the same boundary, any more than the single market and Schengen.

Our participation in the single market, and our ability to help set its rules is the principal reason for our membership of the EU.

So it is a vital interest for us to protect the integrity and fairness of the single market for all its members.

And that is why Britain has been so concerned to promote and defend the single market as the Eurozone crisis rewrites the rules on fiscal coordination and banking union.

These five principles provide what, I believe, is the right approach for the European Union.

So now let me turn to what this means for Britain.

Today, public disillusionment with the EU is at an all time high. There are several reasons for this.

People feel that the EU is heading in a direction that they never signed up to. They resent the interference in our national life by what they see as unnecessary rules and regulation. And they wonder what the point of it all is.

Put simply, many ask “why can’t we just have what we voted to join – a common market?”

They are angered by some legal judgements made in Europe that impact on life in Britain. Some of this antipathy about Europe in general really relates of course to the European Court of Human Rights, rather than the EU. And Britain is leading European efforts to address this.

There is, indeed, much more that needs to be done on this front. But people also feel that the EU is now heading for a level of political integration that is far outside Britain’s comfort zone.

They see Treaty after Treaty changing the balance between Member States and the EU. And note they were never given a say.

They’ve had referendums promised – but not delivered. They see what has happened to the Euro. And they note that many of our political and business leaders urged Britain to join at the time.

And they haven’t noticed many expressions of contrition.

And they look at the steps the Eurozone is taking and wonder what deeper integration for the Eurozone will mean for a country which is not going to join the Euro.

The result is that democratic consent for the EU in Britain is now wafer thin.

Some people say that to point this out is irresponsible, creates uncertainty for business and puts a question mark over Britain’s place in the European Union.

But the question mark is already there and ignoring it won’t make it go away.

In fact, quite the reverse. Those who refuse to contemplate consulting the British people, would in my view make more likely our eventual exit.

Simply asking the British people to carry on accepting a European settlement over which they have had little choice is a path to ensuring that when the question is finally put – and at some stage it will have to be – it is much more likely that the British people will reject the EU.

That is why I am in favour of a referendum. I believe in confronting this issue – shaping it, leading the debate. Not simply hoping a difficult situation will go away.

Some argue that the solution is therefore to hold a straight in-out referendum now.

I understand the impatience of wanting to make that choice immediately.

But I don’t believe that to make a decision at this moment is the right way forward, either for Britain or for Europe as a whole.

A vote today between the status quo and leaving would be an entirely false choice.

Now – while the EU is in flux, and when we don’t know what the future holds and what sort of EU will emerge from this crisis is not the right time to make such a momentous decision about the future of our country.

It is wrong to ask people whether to stay or go before we have had a chance to put the relationship right.

How can we sensibly answer the question ‘in or out’ without being able to answer the most basic question: ‘what is it exactly that we are choosing to be in or out of?’

The European Union that emerges from the Eurozone crisis is going to be a very different body. It will be transformed perhaps beyond recognition by the measures needed to save the Eurozone.

We need to allow some time for that to happen – and help to shape the future of the European Union, so that when the choice comes it will be a real one.

Real choice

A real choice between leaving or being part of a new settlement in which Britain shapes and respects the rules of the single market but is protected by fair safeguards, and free of the spurious regulation which damages Europe’s competitiveness.

A choice between leaving or being part of a new settlement in which Britain is at the forefront of collective action on issues like foreign policy and trade and where we leave the door firmly open to new members.

A new settlement subject to the democratic legitimacy and accountability of national parliaments where Member States combine in flexible cooperation, respecting national differences not always trying to eliminate them and in which we have proved that some powers can in fact be returned to Member States.

In other words, a settlement which would be entirely in keeping with the mission for an updated European Union I have described today. More flexible, more adaptable, more open – fit for the challenges of the modern age.

And to those who say a new settlement can’t be negotiated, I would say listen to the views of other parties in other European countries arguing for powers to flow back to European states.

And look too at what we have achieved already. Ending Britain’s obligation to bail-out Eurozone members. Keeping Britain out of the fiscal compact. Launching a process to return some existing justice and home affairs powers. Securing protections on Banking Union. And reforming fisheries policy.

So we are starting to shape the reforms we need now. Some will not require Treaty change.

But I agree too with what President Barroso and others have said. At some stage in the next few years the EU will need to agree on Treaty change to make the changes needed for the long term future of the Euro and to entrench the diverse, competitive, democratically accountable Europe that we seek.

I believe the best way to do this will be in a new Treaty so I add my voice to those who are already calling for this.

My strong preference is to enact these changes for the entire EU, not just for Britain.

But if there is no appetite for a new Treaty for us all then of course Britain should be ready to address the changes we need in a negotiation with our European partners.

The next Conservative Manifesto in 2015 will ask for a mandate from the British people for a Conservative Government to negotiate a new settlement with our European partners in the next Parliament.

It will be a relationship with the Single Market at its heart.

And when we have negotiated that new settlement, we will give the British people a referendum with a very simple in or out choice. To stay in the EU on these new terms; or come out altogether.

It will be an in-out referendum.

Legislation will be drafted before the next election. And if a Conservative Government is elected we will introduce the enabling legislation immediately and pass it by the end of that year. And we will complete this negotiation and hold this referendum within the first half of the next parliament.

It is time for the British people to have their say. It is time to settle this European question in British politics.

I say to the British people: this will be your decision.

And when that choice comes, you will have an important choice to make about our country’s destiny.

I understand the appeal of going it alone, of charting our own course. But it will be a decision we will have to take with cool heads. Proponents of both sides of the argument will need to avoid exaggerating their claims.

Of course Britain could make her own way in the world, outside the EU, if we chose to do so. So could any other Member State.

But the question we will have to ask ourselves is this: is that the very best future for our country?

We will have to weigh carefully where our true national interest lies.

Alone, we would be free to take our own decisions, just as we would be freed of our solemn obligation to defend our allies if we left NATO. But we don’t leave NATO because it is in our national interest to stay and benefit from its collective defence guarantee.

We have more power and influence – whether implementing sanctions against Iran or Syria, or promoting democracy in Burma – if we can act together.

If we leave the EU, we cannot of course leave Europe. It will remain for many years our biggest market, and forever our geographical neighbourhood. We are tied by a complex web of legal commitments.

Hundreds of thousands of British people now take for granted their right to work, live or retire in any other EU country.

Even if we pulled out completely, decisions made in the EU would continue to have a profound effect on our country. But we would have lost all our remaining vetoes and our voice in those decisions.

We would need to weigh up very carefully the consequences of no longer being inside the EU and its single market, as a full member.

Continued access to the Single Market is vital for British businesses and British jobs.

Since 2004, Britain has been the destination for one in five of all inward investments into Europe.

And being part of the Single Market has been key to that success.

There will be plenty of time to test all the arguments thoroughly, in favour and against the arrangement we negotiate. But let me just deal with one point we hear a lot about.

There are some who suggest we could turn ourselves into Norway or Switzerland – with access to the single market but outside the EU. But would that really be in our best interests?

I admire those countries and they are friends of ours – but they are very different from us. Norway sits on the biggest energy reserves in Europe, and has a sovereign wealth fund of over 500 billion euros. And while Norway is part of the single market – and pays for the principle – it has no say at all in setting its rules: it just has to implement its directives.

The Swiss have to negotiate access to the Single Market sector by sector. Accepting EU rules – over which they have no say – or else not getting full access to the Single Market, including in key sectors like financial services.

The fact is that if you join an organisation like the European Union, there are rules.

You will not always get what you want. But that does not mean we should leave – not if the benefits of staying and working together are greater.

We would have to think carefully too about the impact on our influence at the top table of international affairs. There is no doubt that we are more powerful in Washington, in Beijing, in Delhi because we are a powerful player in the European Union.

That matters for British jobs and British security.

It matters to our ability to get things done in the world. It matters to the United States and other friends around the world, which is why many tell us very clearly that they want Britain to remain in the EU.

We should think very carefully before giving that position up.

If we left the European Union, it would be a one-way ticket, not a return.

So we will have time for a proper, reasoned debate.

At the end of that debate you, the British people, will decide.

And I say to our European partners, frustrated as some of them no doubt are by Britain’s attitude: work with us on this.

Consider the extraordinary steps which the Eurozone members are taking to keep the Euro together, steps which a year ago would have seemed impossible.

It does not seem to me that the steps which would be needed to make Britain – and others – more comfortable in their relationship in the European Union are inherently so outlandish or unreasonable.

And just as I believe that Britain should want to remain in the EU so the EU should want us to stay.

For an EU without Britain, without one of Europe’s strongest powers, a country which in many ways invented the single market, and which brings real heft to Europe’s influence on the world stage which plays by the rules and which is a force for liberal economic reform would be a very different kind of European Union.

And it is hard to argue that the EU would not be greatly diminished by Britain’s departure.

Let me finish today by saying this.

I have no illusions about the scale of the task ahead.

I know there will be those who say the vision I have outlined will be impossible to achieve. That there is no way our partners will co-operate. That the British people have set themselves on a path to inevitable exit. And that if we aren’t comfortable being in the EU after 40 years, we never will be.

But I refuse to take such a defeatist attitude – either for Britain or for Europe.

Because with courage and conviction I believe we can deliver a more flexible, adaptable and open European Union in which the interests and ambitions of all its members can be met.

With courage and conviction I believe we can achieve a new settlement in which Britain can be comfortable and all our countries can thrive.

And when the referendum comes let me say now that if we can negotiate such an arrangement, I will campaign for it with all my heart and soul.

Because I believe something very deeply. That Britain’s national interest is best served in a flexible, adaptable and open European Union and that such a European Union is best with Britain in it.

Over the coming weeks, months and years, I will not rest until this debate is won. For the future of my country. For the success of the European Union. And for the prosperity of our peoples for generations to come.

David Cameron – 2012 Speech at the Paralympics Flame Ceremony

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Below is the text of Mr Cameron’s speech on Friday 24 August 2012 at the lighting of the Paralympics Flame Ceremony at Trafalgar Square in London.

After a fortnight of Olympics withdrawal symptoms, it’s time to dust off the GB flags and get ready for two more weeks of spectacular sport. The London Paralympic Games 2012 are finally here.

Already this is looking to be an incredible event. Ticket sales have smashed records. Some sessions have been sold out for months. Our Paralympic venues are looking fantastic. Our team are geared up to beat the medal count they made in Beijing: 102 medals and second in the table.

Just like the Olympics we’re going to see international friendship, fierce rivalry and the sheer sporting genius of athletes who have trained day-in, day-out for years. But we can’t deny there’s something particularly inspiring about the Paralympics.

Why? Because being a Paralympian takes an extra measure of guts and steel. A lot of the athletes arriving in London would have been told from a young age about everything they can’t do – and they decided to throw everything into what they can do, whether that’s smashing a ball over the net, running on prosthetics or swimming faster than the rest.

That example – of overcoming the difficulties you’ve been handed, pushing yourself to the limits, going way beyond the expectations others have set for you – is truly inspiring.

So I want to wish everyone competing in these Games – and particularly ParalympicsGB – the best of luck. The whole country will be cheering you on.

David Cameron – 2012 Speech at Olympics Press Conference

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Below is the text of the speech made by David Cameron, the Prime Minister, at a press conference at the Olympics on 26th July 2012.

It gives me great pride to welcome you all to London on this truly momentous day for our country. Seven years of waiting, planning, building and dreaming are almost over.

Tomorrow the curtain comes up, the spectators arrive and the Olympic and Paralympic Games 2012 can officially begin. I want to set out three things you’re going to see over the coming weeks.

Number one: you’re going to see beyond doubt that Britain can deliver. We’ve delivered this incredible Olympic Park on time, on budget and in real style. 46,000 people have turned a wasteland the size of Hyde Park into an extraordinary city town within one of the world’s most exciting cities.

Millions of cubic metres of soil have been excavated. Eight kilometres of waterways have been laid. A stadium, an aquatics centre, a velodrome have been built. According to Jacques Rogge, the athletes are ecstatic with the training venues – and he likes the facilities so much he’s staying here.

All around the park a new transport network has taken shape. Dozens of underground stations have been upgraded, capacity has massively increased and all of it is being overseen by a state-of-the-art Transport Co-ordination Centre.

And what’s so great about these Games is that we’ve built not just for the coming weeks – but the coming decades. When all the fireworks have died down and the athletes have gone home there is going to be a genuine legacy.

A physical legacy – with a new quarter of London for people to live and work in. An economic legacy – with businesses getting a big international boost to trade. And a sporting legacy – with people all over the country inspired to get active and get into sport.

So we’re delivering a world-class Games, a well-connected Games – and above all a secure Games. Our absolute top priority is keeping people safe. I have personally chaired regular security meetings in the run-up to this and I’m pleased to tell you that all plans – including detailed contingency plans – are in place.

There are extra police on the streets of London, in the skies above and in the waters of the Thames. We’ve got our intelligence services working round the clock. And I am proud too that we have some of our finest men and women – our armed forces – guarding the Olympics venues.

This is the biggest security operation in our peacetime history, bar none, and we are leaving nothing to chance. All of this goes to show what we can achieve as a country.

And it sends out this powerful message to the world: If you’re looking for a great place to do business, to invest, to work, to study, to visit – then look no further than Great Britain.

The second thing you’re going to see here is a real sense of community. We always said the success of these Games wasn’t just about what Government does or what business does – it’s about our people and the welcome they give to the world.

We want this to be the friendly Games – and already we’re seeing that. When the call went out for Olympics volunteers, a quarter of a million people came forward. 70,000 of them were chosen.

On top of that, 8000 Londoners are acting as Ambassadors for this city. Between them they are volunteering for 8 million hours. So this is not a state-run Games, it’s a people-run Games. It’s about the people of the UK showing a really warm welcome – and showing respect to all the teams and nationalities who come here.

On that note, it’s right that in 2012 – 40 years on from the Munich Olympics – we remember the Israeli team members who were killed there. We will be properly marking the anniversary of that tragedy with a special commemoration and every day of these Games we’ll be demonstrating that there is no more diverse, more open, more tolerant city in the world than this one.

The third – and most important – thing you’re going to see and feel over these coming weeks is that infectious spirit of the Olympic and Paralympic Games. Beyond all the grand ceremonies and great displays, we’ve got to remember what this is all about.

The athletes up at dawn to train. The swimmers in the pool day-in, day-out for years. The children who dream and make it big. The people who come from nothing to represent their nation. Their efforts are the heart of this Games.

Right at the heart of the Village, the words of the British poet Tennyson have been engraved. They read: ‘To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.’ It’s about never giving up, pushing yourself to the limits, relentlessly pursuing glory and greatness – the best of human endeavour. And it’s this spirit that is going to shine out from London.

We want this to be the Games that lifts up a city, that lifts up our country and that lifts up our world, bringing people together. So we are delighted to host you here in London today and I hope you have a fantastic Games over the coming weeks.

David Cameron – 2012 Transcript of Q&A at Zayed University, Abu Dhabi

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Question

Good afternoon, Prime Minister.  My question is, you mentioned about the long-term relationship that England has with the UAE and the investments that the UAE has had with the United Kingdom.  What are some examples of future endeavours that the United Kingdom might participate  in with  the UAE in the near future?

Prime Minister

Thank you.  Well I think we are standing in a good example of one.  You obviously are going to be building fantastic universities like this one, to provide great education for future students.  I think one of the strengths that Britain has is a very strong university sector, not just Oxford and Cambridge and University College London, London School of Economics, but also all of the universities in Britain: Newcastle, Durham, Edinburgh; these are all excellent institutions.

And I think we need to do more, not only to encourage students from the Emirates to study in Britain and let me just make the point that there is no limit on the number of people who can study at a British university; as long as you have a basic English language qualification and a place at a British university, there is no limit on the numbers.

But I think also we should be smarter in making sure that our universities and your universities are co-operating, collaborating, setting up campuses in each other’s countries, and actually using the internet as well to have a distance learning programme.  So I think that there are all the traditional things our countries have done together, obviously in the oil and gas industries, in infrastructure and building, but I think we now need to go to the next level, looking at cooperation in things like education, the creative industries, there is obviously a lot more to do in financial services.  But I think we need to be more creative about the partnerships we can form for the future.

Question

So you were talking about how strong our countries are and the relationship between them.  Can you please comment on the EU resolution and why Britain is sort of putting pressure on the UAE in terms of human rights and, in specific, women’s rights?

Prime Minister

Well thank you very much for that question.  First can I compliment you on the fact that it seems to me from looking around that almost more than three quarters of the students at this university are women?  And I think many countries could learn a lot from how well you are doing at making sure there are good education programmes and good equality of access.

Let me directly answer the question about human rights.  My country very strongly believes that giving people both a job and a voice is vital for creating stable, prosperous societies, and we have a history of supporting human rights around the world.  Now that does not mean that we preach or lecture; different countries take different pathways to becoming more open societies.  We should be respectful of the different journey that countries are taking.  We should be respectful of different traditions, different cultures.

But I do think that standing up for human rights and standing up for the right of people to have a job and a voice around the world is important, and I think this is a discussion that our countries can have.  Nothing is off-limits in the relationship that we have.  When you are close friends, close partners, it is quite like a family; you have to be able to discuss the difficult things as well as the easy things.  And that is the sort of relationship that we have.  But as I say, it is one that is based on mutual respect and understanding, and it is not a relationship based on lecturing or hectoring.

Question

My question is that both the NATO and the UN have been under a lot of criticism lately, so you as a prime minister, what do you think they should do to re-evaluate their role as peacekeepers or guardians [in Syria]?

Prime Minister

I think it is a very important point.  The United Nations plays a vital role in our world.  Of course, it is not perfect, and of course one can make criticisms of it.  But it is the only thing we have at a global level that can actually try to lay down some rules and some resolutions and stand up for oppressed people around the world.

And what saddens me is that when it comes to Syria, I think the United Nations has failed the world.  Because in the case of Libya, countries saw what Colonel Gaddafi was doing, that he was murdering and brutalising his own people.  And at the United Nations, we were able to pass a very strong resolution condemning that appalling brutality, and then an alliance of like-minded countries was able to act and to help the people of Libya get rid of this brutal dictator.

And that alliance of countries around the world included countries in the Gulf such as the United Arab Emirates, such as Qatar, and it was also fully endorsed by the Gulf Cooperation Council; it was fully endorsed by the League of Arab Nations.  I think this was an important moment for the world when we saw that if there is political will, then the United Nations can do a good and vital job.

But I think in the case of Syria, I am afraid that the United Nations has let the world down, and that is really because two of the permanent members, China and Russia, have not been prepared to see a really strong resolution that condemns what Assad has done to his own people, and that supports proper political transition in Syria.  Because that is what is required.

I worry that when the history books are written and maybe not in many years from now people will look back and say, ‘Why could we not do more when we see 20,000, 30,000, 40,000 people losing their lives?’  So I am determined that we go on pushing at the United Nations for tougher resolutions, for tougher action against Syria.  And like-minded countries like our two countries should go on working together, trying to see what more can we do to help the Syrian people to throw off this brutal dictator who is murdering so many of his fellow countrymen.

When you watch the television now and you see helicopters, aeroplanes, bombing from the air whole districts of whole towns and cities, you know that Bashar Assad cannot possibly stay running his country.  There are no circumstances in which he could be part of a transition for a peaceful Syria.  So he has to go.  But it is sad that the United Nations has not been able to play as leading a role as I would have liked over this vital issue.

Question

Prime Minister, I would like to ask you, given the current economic status of the UK, how do you see the relationship with the UAE going further?

Prime Minister

Well I would argue that the thing about our two countries is that we need each other.  We are actually quite complementary economies.  Clearly, this year, you have very successful growth here in the UAE; you have bounced back from the global problems of 2008, and it is hugely impressive.  And in Britain, we are finding it harder going; we had a very big banking sector that suffered very badly at that collapse, we had a big budget deficit which we are having to pay down.  We paid down a quarter of that deficit in two years, but our growth is not as fast as yours.

But where I think our economies are so complementary is that because you are a big oil-producing nation, you have a surplus to invest I think countries like Britain that are very open, very welcoming of countries like yours to come and invest, I think that is a good output for your investment.  And likewise, Britain needs to trade its way out of recession.  It needs to link up with the fastest-growing economies of the world.  50% of our exports go to Europe, and clearly those are going to have a difficult time, as the European economies are struggling.  But 50% of our exports go to the rest of the world, and if you think of our exports to your country, in the last six months in the first six months of this year they are up 16%.  We are well on course to double our trade and investment, as we promised some years ago.

So I think our two economies are very complementary.  We are making a lot of goods and services that people in the UAE want to buy.  We are a great home for investment from your country.  And as I am going to be arguing, debating this week with your government, I think there is a lot more collaboration that we can do over, for instance, projects like defence, where it should not anymore be a question of one country simply selling items to another country, but two countries collaborating, working together, transferring technology, setting up joint projects, investing together for the future.  And it is that sort of relationship that I think we can have between Britain and the United Arab Emirates.

Question

Good afternoon, Prime Minister.  My question is on energy sustainability.  I would like to know, what is Britain’s strategic direction in collaborating with the United Arab Emirates in that field?

Prime Minister 

Well I think this is a really vital question for all economies around the world, as after a while, we will see hydrocarbons, oil and gas begin to peak and then to turn down.  But I think it is a particularly important question for the United Kingdom, because we have been quite a substantial producer of oil and gas from the North Sea, but that is now past its peak and beginning to decline.

And so our energy policy is to make sure that we have a diversity of supply, so we have a nuclear industry, and we are re-investing in that nuclear industry, civil nuclear power, with new nuclear power stations.  We have the largest amounts of renewable energy in Europe in terms of tidal power and offshore wind power, and we are harnessing that through a system of subsidies which is going to build offshore wind farms and wave energy projects.

So our vision is one where there is a balanced energy policy: some nuclear, some renewables, and then also obviously gas which we will be producing some ourselves, but we now are major importers of gas from particularly Qatar, but also elsewhere.  And so we think we will have a balanced energy policy.  But I think what all countries have to understand is that as we move to electric vehicles from petrol vehicles we are going to see a big increase in electricity demand.  And so if we want to meet targets for reducing carbon emissions, we have to recognise that as electricity demand grows, we must try and meet more of that demand, either from nuclear or renewable sources, or, where necessary, from gas.  But where possible, we should be looking at carbon capture and storage projects.

And I think what is interesting about this is we must not see this as only a cost and an obligation.  We should see it as an opportunity.  All countries will have to move to greener forms of energy, so the first countries that can produce new batteries for cars, the first countries that can harness wave and wind power, the first countries that do better at storing electricity: these countries will have a massive competitive advantage as the world moves towards more renewable forms of electricity.

And I would like to pay tribute to your government and your country, because as far as I can see, you are not just resting on the laurels of having a very successful oil and gas industry; you are also big investors into renewable technologies, into the green technologies of the future.

Question

What is your next step in Arab Spring countries?

Prime Minister 

It is a short question but it will have to be a long answer, I am afraid: what is your next step in Arab Spring countries?  I mean, let me be frank.  I am a supporter of the Arab Spring.  I think that the opportunity of moving towards more open societies, more open democracies, I think is good for the Middle East, for North Africa.  I say this as someone who is a liberal conservative: I think we should respect the different traditions and pathways that countries take, we should not think that all countries are the same, and we should not also think that just being an open society means just holding election and that is it.

What I think is important in these countries is what I call the building blocks of democracy: the rule of law, rights for women, a free press.  Putting in place these building blocks and moving towards more open societies I think is good for these, good for countries, particularly in countries like Libya, where there was a particularly brutal dictatorship.  So their need for change was all the greater.

Now I know that a lot of people will say, ‘Look at the results of the Arab Spring’.  They will worry, have we replaced one form of tyranny and dictatorship with the problems of extremism?  And my answer to that is, we must judge these new governments by what they do.  If these new governments take sensible steps to reform their economies, to open their societies, to guarantee people a job and a voice, we should support them.  But if they take steps towards political or religious extremism, then we should say that is not the right path.

So we should not be naïve: the Arab Spring is not just going to lead to instant transformation, but I think it gives people an opportunity, particularly in countries where they were completely denied it, it gives people an opportunity of a better prospect of a job and a voice.  So I think it will be a difficult period.  There will be ups and downs: sometimes countries will take two steps forward and one step back.  But the idea of more open societies, more open economies, I think is a good one.

Question

My question is, the European Union has been under a lot of critical threats lately, and Britain, although it is protected from these threats, it is still vulnerable.  How much latitude does your government have in protecting itself from the economic crisis?

Prime Minister

It is a very good question.  The short answer is that all the European economies, whether they are part of the euro single currency, like France and Germany and Spain and Italy, or whether they have their own currencies, like Britain, all of us will be affected by what is happening in the eurozone.  Because, as I said, about 50% of our trade goes to the European Union; about 40% goes to eurozone countries.  So if Italy, Spain, Portugal, Greece – if those economies are suffering, that will have an effect on the UK.

But I think what lies behind your question is important, that does it advantage Britain having our own currency?  Yes, I think it does.  Because at least in responding to the economic difficulties of recent years, we have seen our own currency depreciate, which has meant that we have had a greater opportunity to try and trade our way out of difficulty. And that is why my government spends so much time trying to link up with the fastest growing countries in the world.  I have led trade missions to Brazil, to Russia, Indonesia, China, India, Malaysia, and now the United Arab Emirates, although I would hasten to add this was the first country I visited as Prime Minister, and I am back already in two and a half years.

So we have that opportunity to do that, and we are also members of the single market.  So we have the whole of the European market open to us, but clearly, the problems in the eurozone are going to take time to resolve.  And because they take time to resolve, every country that trades with Europe is going to notice that effect.  Why does this take so long?  Well it is because if you put 17 countries with 17 different histories and 17 different economies into one single currency, that does create tensions and pressures.  That would be the same if you attempted a single currency across the Gulf, you would find tensions and pressures.

And that is what the eurozone is going through at the moment.  On the one hand, they know that they have to transfer more sovereignty and power towards some central authority, to make their single currency work.  But they know that is very difficult, because that is asking people to give up an element of their sovereignty and their democracy.

So there is a struggle going on at the heart of the eurozone which will create tensions and pressures.  Britain is better off outside the eurozone, but we will be affected by what happens there.

Question

What is the greatest challenge you face as Prime Minister?

Prime Minister

The greatest challenge?  Thank you.  I think the greatest challenge for a prime minister probably for me definitely the greatest responsibility I feel is for our armed services who are serving in Afghanistan.  And I feel very acutely the challenge that there are 9,000 mostly British men, but some British women, serving in a very difficult country and very difficult conditions, and I am responsible for their safety.

I think what we are doing in Afghanistan is right and I am very proud of the fact that Emiratis are serving alongside British soldiers in Afghanistan.  Because we have to remember that that country, when it was so badly broken that the Taliban took over, it became a haven for the training of terrorists.  It became part of the world centre for extremism and terrorism.  And the whole world has suffered from that.

And so it is important the work that we are doing, to try and build up the Afghan government, the Afghan army, the Afghan police, Afghan society, so it is a country capable of running itself.  But that is probably the biggest single challenge, because that is the biggest single responsibility.

Question

My question is, what can we do as university students?  Because we still face stereotypes against us, especially as women.  So what can we do to build these bridges between two nations and cultures?

Prime Minister

Well I think it is a very good question.  I think probably the best thing is more exchanges between universities.  I mean, to me, the point of university is to open your mind, to open your mind to fresh thinking, to fresh ideas, to challenge some of the ideas that you start with.  And if that is the point of university, then the greatest amount of exchange with different universities, different students, different cultures, seems to me a thoroughly good thing.  And I think you are so well placed to do that here in the UAE.  Your country is a hub where people come and travel here from all over the globe.  And so I think there is a great opportunity for student exchanges.

I was in Nottinghamshire; Nottingham, a city in my country, has opened a university in Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia, and it is a remarkable campus.  I did an event a bit like this at this university, and I think only 50% of the students are from Malaysia; the rest are from India, from China, from Brazil, from the Philippines, and then many students from Britain.  Lots of people at Nottingham university go and spend a whole year at this campus in Malaysia.

And I remember speaking to these students and answering their questions, and thinking that this was a brilliant institution that is going to connect up East and West.  And I think the challenge in our world; as I said, we are in this global race, this global competition, and if we are going to succeed as countries, we need to take the best of everyone.  And so I think opening up universities to those sorts of exchanges will make a difference, and then I think you can challenge those stereotypes yourselves.

Question

My question is regarding security.  Recently Iran, I should say, has been on a big move, causing an uproar in the Gulf regions, especially in the nuclear department.  And my question is, how much of a threat do you think Iran could possibly be?  Also I would like to get your opinion on foreign policies, taking part in other countries’ affairs.

Prime Minister

Well let us start with Iran, that is a big enough question to deal with.  I think to answer your question directly, I think Iran does pose a threat.  In two ways: first of all, if Iran is embarked on trying to acquire a nuclear weapon, as I believe it is, that is a threat in itself, particularly given what Iran has said about other countries in the region, and in particular, about Israel, about wanting to wipe it off the map.

So I think in itself, it is a hugely concerning development, a desperately bad development for our world, and that is why we should do everything we can to stop it happening.  But I think there is a second reason why it is so concerning, and that is, I think it could trigger a nuclear arms race across the whole region, and that would consume a huge amount of resources in energy, but also I think make the Middle East a more unstable, more dangerous part of the world.

So I think for all those reasons, it is right for like-minded countries to do everything they can to try and persuade the Iranians to take a different course.  And I pay tribute to your country here, particularly the emirate of Dubai, who I believe 25% of their trade was with Iran, and that has now gone to almost zero.  So Dubai has, and the Emirates have played their part in the very tough sanctions that we put in place on Iran.  My country has played its part, the European Union has an oil embargo, this is having, I think, a big effect on the Iranian economy, they have noticed the damage that it is doing.

But really the message to Iran should be this: it is not acceptable for you to have a military nuclear path, but we are quite prepared for you to have a civilian nuclear path; if you want access to civilian nuclear power in order to diversify your supplies of energy, that is perfectly acceptable.  And the message we need to say to Iran is there is a peaceful path; there is a path that you can take that will remove the pariah status from your nation, and that is to accept that you can have civil nuclear power but not military nuclear power.  And then we can have a proper discussion about how to normalise relations between Iran and the rest of the world.  But while they keep pursuing this nuclear path, I think it is very important that countries like ours keep up the pressure, keep up the sanctions and keep up the work in persuading Iran to take a different path.

Now the last point of your question, what about what we do in other countries.  This is a huge issue of debate and controversy, and fundamentally, we should respect countries’ national sovereignty, we should respect each other’s choices.  I do believe in a world of nation states, a world of nation states, though, cooperating with each other.

But there are occasions when something happens within a country of such huge consequences for its people that the world has to sit up and, I believe, act.  And I think Libya was such a case.  Colonel Gaddafi was – his forces were bearing down on Benghazi, he said he was going to shoot those people like rats, and I think it is right that the world acted.  And I think the world does need, as I have said about Syria, to do more, particularly at the United Nations.

So I do not believe you can draw an absolute rule.  But the basic presumption is that we are world of nation states, a world where we should respect each other’s sovereignty and a world where damaging that sovereignty is not right.

Question

What is your message for us students of Zayed University?

Prime Minister

Well I suppose my message ought to be work hard; that is part of it, obviously.  I think you have an enormous opportunity to be a student in your country at this time.  Your country has travelled this extraordinary path from the 1970s to today.  You are not just an oil-producing nation with oil-related wealth; you have created a diverse economy which has got incredible connections to the rest of the world.

And I think the challenge for the next generation is what do you do with that inheritance?  How do you further diversify your economy?  How do you go on, I believe in your interests, having very strong relations with Western countries like the United Kingdom, but also, how do you grow all your relationships with some of the emerging countries of the South and the East?

You can be quite a pivotal, influential country, both in this region, and in the wider world, and I think you should obviously work hard and study hard while you are here, but think about what you can contribute to the future of this extraordinary country.  But I hope a big part of that will be in partnership with countries like the United Kingdom, for all the reasons that I have given.

Question

I have a question regarding democracy.  In terms of the need of good government, is democracy the only answer?

Prime Minister

I that I think that all countries benefit if they give their people the chance of a job and a voice and a way of participating in their country.

And I believe all countries are on a path; we should respect the different paths that countries are on, and the different traditions as I have said.  But I think countries that put in place what I call the building blocks of democracy and open societies, I think in the end will be the most successful countries, because then you harness all the abilities, all the enthusiasms, of your people, and also you give them a way of making decisions and being consulted over decisions that can actually allow them to speak out and to make that clear.

Where I think people can make a mistake, and perhaps in the West, some have made a mistake in the past, is the idea that the very act of holding an election, that is enough.  I think that is completely wrong.  You know, democracy is not just about every five years having a vote and then nothing else.  What matters for, I think, the long-term success of a country is all of the building blocks that you put in place.

Do you have the access of women to university?  Do you have equal treatment under the law?  Do you have courts and a rule of law that work properly?  Is there a proper place for the military in your country?  All of these are important questions, as well as the issue of elections.  And I think we need to explain that, because otherwise we can sound a little naïve by just saying, all that matters is an election.

Clearly there are lots of countries in the world that have elections that are not very free countries.  So I think it is looking at all of the aspects of what I call the building blocks of open societies.  And I think that is a very important part of all countries’ progress, because as I say, different paths, different timetables, different tracks, and we should show respect for different countries, particularly when it so clearly is the case in, for instance, the country we are in today, where there is clearly a government that takes very seriously the consent and concerns of its people.

I gave a speech to the United Nations about this issue saying that it is the building blocks that matter most of all.  And that is what I think can build genuinely open societies and open economies, which I think are in the interests of both governments and people.

David Cameron – 2012 Speech on Crime and Justice

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Below is the text of a speech made by the Prime Minister, David Cameron, on crime and justice on Monday 22nd October 2012.

Two weeks ago, I spoke about this Government’s mission: to build an aspiration nation, where those who work hard can get on – and no one gets left behind. A stronger private sector. Welfare that works. Schools that teach.

Today I want to talk about another, critical, part of helping people to rise up and that is confronting the crime and bad behaviour that holds so many people down.

Go to some neighbourhoods in our country and you can feel that aspiration is dead. Children learning from a young age that life is about surviving, not thriving. Gang leaders as role models, drug dealers as career advisors. This doesn’t just matter to the elderly lady with five bolts on her door or the woman terrified to walk home in the dark. It matters to all of us.We will not rise as a country if we leave millions behind and write off whole communities.

So today I want to tell you about our approach to crime and justice – and the bold, unprecedented action we’re taking.

For many people, when it comes to crime I’m the person associated with those three words, two of which begin with ‘H’, and one of which is ‘hoodie’; even though I never actually said it. For others, I’m the politician who has argued frequently for tough punishment. So do I take a tough line on crime – or a touchy-feely one?

In no other public debate do the issues get as polarised as this. On climate change you don’t have to be in denial on the one hand or campaigning to get every car off the road on the other. Life isn’t that simple – so government policy isn’t that simple. And yet with the crime debate, people seem to want it black or white.

Lock ‘em up or let ‘em out. Blame the criminal or blame society. ‘Be tough’ or ‘act soft’.

We’re so busy going backwards and forwards we never move the debate on.

What I have been trying to do – in opposition and now in government – is break out of this sterile debate and show a new way forward: tough, but intelligent. We need to be tough because the foundation of effective criminal justice is personal responsibility.

Committing a crime is always a choice. That’s why the primary, proper response to crime is not explanations or excuses, it is punishment – proportionate, meaningful punishment.

And when a crime is serious enough, the only thinkable punishment is a long prison sentence. This is what victims – and society – deserve.

Victims need to know the criminal will be held to account and dealt with. And the ‘society’ bit really matters: retribution is not a dirty word, it is important to society that revulsion we all feel against crime is properly recognised. But punishment is what offenders both deserve and need, too. It says to them: “You are adults. Your actions have consequences.”

To treat criminals as victims – to say they had no choice – is to treat them like children. I firmly believe in their right to be treated as adults, with the responsibility to carry the consequences of their actions. But that’s not the whole story.

Just being tough isn’t a successful strategy in itself. Come with me to any prison in this country. There you’ll meet muggers, robbers, and burglars. But you’ll also meet young people who can’t read, teenagers addicted to drugs, people who’ve never worked a day in their whole lives.

These people need help so they can become part of the solution and not remain part of the problem. Recognising this isn’t soft, or liberal. It’s common sense.

We’ll never create a safer society unless we give people, especially young people, opportunities and chances away from crime. Prevention is the cheapest and most effective way to deal with crime – everything else is simply picking up the pieces of failure that has gone before. That’s part of what I mean by being intelligent as well as tough.

Not just saying what people want to hear, not playing to the gallery, but thinking hard about dealing with the causes of crime as well as the fall-out. And today, being intelligent has got to mean something else too. Achieving our ambitions when there is much less money than there used to be. The politics of the blank cheque are well and truly over.

The only way to achieve our ambitions is reform – radical, intelligent reform. So much of what went wrong in public services previously wasn’t because the money was missing, it was because the methods were wrong.

Top-down, bureaucratic, centralising. Judging every service by the money you put in rather than by the service you got out.

Our whole reform agenda is about turning this on its head.

Going from big government to big society; more choice, more competition, more openness. You see it in welfare providers paid by results and hospitals publishing their results online.

Some say, this is fine in welfare, fine with hospitals or fine with schools, but it won’t work in criminal justice. They think when it comes to keeping people safe, we’ve got to stick with the old, state-heavy approach. I believe that’s wrong.

It was the old approach that gave us police stuck behind desks filling in forms. It left us with the criminal justice system chasing ridiculous, unhelpful targets. And it left us with sky-high re-offending rates.

So we are bringing the logic of our public service reform agenda – transparency, payment by results, accountability – to transform criminal justice too. Because every part of that system needs change. Every part needs tough, but intelligent reform.And today, I want to explain how that’s working, right through the criminal justice system.

Let’s start with the police. I am profoundly grateful for the job our police officers do.

Years ago I used to run near Wormwood Scrubs every morning, and on my route there was a small stone monument. It said: ‘Here fell PS Christopher Head; PC Geoffrey Fox; PC David Wombwell, 12th August 1966’; and it was a daily reminder of this single truth: Police officers put on their uniform in the morning, kiss their children goodbye, and leave home having no idea about the dangers they might face.

Just a few weeks ago, Police Constables Nicola Hughes and Fiona Bone answered a 999 call without knowing where it would lead. And though PC Ian Dibell was off-duty, he too could not have imagined what he would come up against. These people were professional, brave, instinctively selfless. The same can be said of thousands of police officers who work on our streets, protecting our families day-in, day-out.

All of us owe them our thanks. All of us owe them our respect. And for all those who wear the uniform, it’s essential we get policing right. For years police officers were held back from doing the job they signed up for. We had targets like the ‘Offences Brought to Justice Target’ which encouraged police to chase easy wins.

I remember being out on the beat with a police officer in South Wales and he felt he had to book a boy for taking some money from his mum’s purse – rather than just a stiff talking to down at the nick. That’s what the culture and targets demanded. He knew it was ridiculous. Everyone knew it was ridiculous. But the targets forced his hand. And then there was the out-of-control bureaucracy.

Police officers spending almost half their shift on paperwork. So Theresa May is doing what so many Home Secretaries before her shied away from; fundamentally reforming the police and allowing them to get on with the tough, no-nonsense policing that they want and we want.

We’ve scrapped all the targets and given them a single, core objective – to cut crime.We’ve ended micro-management from Whitehall and returned professional discretion to local forces.

The notion that you had to fill out a form every time you stopped someone on the street – it’s gone.The endless looking up for instruction from some official in the Home Office – it’s over. And we’re going further; reforming police pay so it rewards crime-fighting, not just time served; and changing the leadership of the police too.

Our reforms are comprehensive, they are sophisticated – and they are working.

HMIC – the independent regulator – found that even at a time of tight budgets, the frontline is being protected. The number of neighbourhood police officers is up. Public satisfaction is up and crime is down. And if you like official figures, here they are.

Even though in real terms, central police spending cuts are around 20 per cent over four years, the latest figures – out at the end of last week – show that crime is down 6 per cent in the last year.

We can have tough policing when money is tight. And we’re bringing intelligent reform too. More accountability and transparency to put people in charge of policing. That’s what Police and Crime Commissioners are all about.

These are big, important elections coming up. It’s the first time they are being held. People are going to be voting in their own law and order champion: One person who sets the budgets; sets the priorities; hires and fires and Chief Constable; bangs heads together to get things done.

Some people are saying that no one’s bothered, that people aren’t interested in how we fight crime in their area. I don’t agree. I say look at crime maps and you come to a conclusion.

They said no one would care about transparency – but this website has had 500 million hits and counting.

The more high profile Police and Crime Commissioners get, the more engaged people will be – and the more pressure they’ll put on them to deliver tough local policing.

So my message for these elections is clear: If you want more tough policing, you can get it.If you want coppers who are on the beat, on your street, cracking down on anti-social behaviour, focussing on the things you care about, then don’t just talk about it, get out on November 15th and vote for it.Intelligent reform is happening at the national level too, with the National Crime Agency.

This is, if you like, Britain’s version of the FBI; recognising that there are some highly serious and organised crimes – human trafficking, money laundering, drug rings – that need the very best in terms of national co-ordination.

The next part of the criminal justice chain is prosecution and here again we need tough, but intelligent reform.

Too often the story’s the same. Someone gets arrested in the middle of the night. They’re bailed. It takes months before they appear in court. Then the day dawns and they’ve disappeared.

It’s why you get whole walls of police stations papered with pictures of people missing on bail. But we saw with the riots last summer it doesn’t have to be like that. Justice was swift and it was tough – and we want that all the time.

So we’re opening our courts earlier in the morning, in the evenings and weekends; because crime doesn’t keep normal working hours and neither should our criminal justice system. Already this is happening in 48 courts across the country.

Another innovation is video links between police stations and courts. If someone is arrested, the police can flick the switch on a monitor and get them in front of a magistrate in hours rather than months. So no bail to jump and no cracks to slip through.

And we need to toughen up the process in court too.

Today, once the verdict is passed, the defendant can stand in the witness box and make their case for a more lenient sentence; but too often the victim doesn’t get a say. The one person whose life has been torn apart is kept silent.

We want to give more victims the chance to be heard – to say how their life has been affected by the crime. And to back that up we will be appointing a new Victims’ Commissioner to make sure that victims’ voices are heard not just in court but right at the heart of government.

We need intelligent reform, too, to open up our whole justice system. Today it’s all too closed, opaque, unaccountable.

We hear second hand what sentence a criminal is getting. Wouldn’t it be better if we could hear and watch the result and the reasoning – directly?

So we are legislating to start televising the sentences that Judges deliver, so that people can hear why a decision has been reached directly from the Judge.

This will start in the Court of Appeal next year, and in the long-term we want to see this happening in the Crown Court too.

When those criminals are convicted, we need to make sure the punishment fits the crime. At every single level of sentence this Government is getting tougher.

Where fines used to be limited, with us magistrates will be able to impose unlimited fines. While the maximum compensation that criminals used to be liable for was £5000, we are uncapping it. If you cost someone £10,000 or £20,000, you should potentially have to pay that back.

And we are toughening up community sentences too.

Having a monthly meeting with your probation officer is hardly a punishment – so tomorrow in Parliament, something important is happening. We are laying amendments to the Crime and Courts Bill, making sure that every community sentence contains an element of punishment.

And this tough change is aligned with an intelligent reform.

We’re introducing new GPS satellite tagging that can pin-point exactly where offenders are. Making it literally impossible to duck under the radar.

If you’re on a community sentence, you will be supervised. You will be properly punished. And you will be forced to complete that sentence.Of course, for many crimes, only one form of punishment will do – and that is prison.

I want to be clear. I want to see people who ruin the lives of others – rapists, murderers, muggers – behind bars, and kept there for a long time.

I’ve always supported the principle of the life sentence.

You do something heinous – and for the rest of your life you are either in prison or on licence and subject to recall if you step out of line. I don’t believe that’s old-fashioned, it is vital, so we are increasing life sentences.

A new two strikes and you’re out rule means that if you commit two serious sexual or violent offences, you get life. Not at the Judge’s discretion – but mandatory life.

We are creating a new maximum sentence of life for those who import guns and death onto our streets. And we are looking too at toughening up knife sentences, because to me a caution for carrying a knife just does not seem enough.And for anyone sentenced to a spell in prison, there will be space in prison. There will be no arbitrary targets for our prison population.

The number of people behind bars will not be about bunks available, it will be about how many people have committed serious crimes.

Once they are inside prison, we’re toughening up the regime.

Too many prisoners see out their time by just lying on their beds for hours and hours, watching TV, doing nothing, learning nothing. So we are turning those prisons from places of idleness into places of work.

Like HMP Manchester, where prisoners work in the laundry or printing workshop for up to 40 hours a week. I saw myself today a number of programmes where it is possible for prisoners to work and earn.

This is about fit and able people getting out of their cells, having a structured day, earning respect and earning privileges. And when they earn money, we’ll be making them pay a chunk of it back to their victims too.

So on the punishment of criminals – I don’t want there to be any doubt that we will be tougher. But it’s not good enough just being tough, locking people up and thinking: that’s it.

We need to be intelligent too, about what happens to these people during and after their punishment. And here’s why.At the moment, six out of ten of those leaving jail are reconvicted within two years. If you think that figure’s depressing, try this.

While those in the care system account for just one per cent of children, a quarter of those in prison were in care as children.

Half the prison population say they have no qualifications. We have got to give these people a chance. Not just for their sake, but for ours. To stop that revolving door that sucks millions of pounds of public money in and spits thousands of unreformed offenders out.

We’ve tried just banging people up and it’s failed.

We’ve tried letting people out with £46 in their pocket and no help on the outside and guess what? They’ve gone back to their old ways.

So I’m not going to try and out-bid any other politician on toughness, saying “let’s just bang them up for longer, let’s have more isolation, and once they’re out they’re on their own.”

I say: let’s use that time we’ve got these people inside to have a proper positive impact on them, for all our sakes.

It’s not a case of ‘prison works’ or ‘prison doesn’t work’ – we need to make prison work. And once people are on the outside, we’ve got to stick with them, and give them proper support, because it’s not outer space we’re releasing these people into – it’s our streets, our towns, among our families and our children.

That’s why this Government is engaged in what can only be described as a rehabilitation revolution – led by the new Justice Secretary Chris Grayling.

His main, driving mission is this: to see more people properly punished, but fewer offenders returning to the system.

To achieve that, we’re saying to charities, companies and voluntary organisations – come and help us rehabilitate our prisoners. Give offenders new skills. Educate them.

If they’ve been in a gang, send a reformed gang member to meet them at the prison gates and take them under their wing. If they’re on drugs, try the latest techniques to get them clean.

Do whatever it takes to get these people back living decent, productive lives. We will pay you for that; but – and it is a major but – once again the payments will depend on results.

We’re going to pay people by the lives they turn around. Just think of what this means for the taxpayer.

When this Government came to power we were spending £40,000 a year (per person) just on banging people up. With payment by results, your money goes into what works: prisoners going straight, crime coming down, our country getting safer.

It’s such a good idea I want to put rocket boosters under it; indeed today I have an announcement to make.

By the end of 2015, I want to see payment by results spread right across rehabilitation. Of course, there will be some high-risk offenders for whom this is not appropriate but this approach should be the norm rather than the exception. And I want to see rehabilitation reach more of those who would benefit from it.

Today, rehab just goes to those who have been inside for a year or more. But that misses all those who go in for shorter sentences yet re-offend time and time again. So I want to look at making them part of the rehabilitation revolution too.

I’ve touched on all the parts of the criminal justice chain, from policing to prison but where we need the most intelligent reform is prevention: stopping all this happening in the first place.

The riots last summer were a stark warning that parts of our society are broken. They told us we need to intervene much earlier in the story, before the jail cell, before the robbery, before the petty theft.

As the CSJ has argued so passionately, having a strong family is absolutely vital to people’s life chances and we believe that too. Strengthening families, strengthening partnerships, strengthening marriages, encouraging commitment are all part of our agenda.It’s why we’re shaking up fostering and adoption, ending the scandal that left children languishing in the care system for years.

It’s why we’ve re-focussed Sure Start centres – with more parenting classes, reaching out to the parents who really need support. And it’s why we’re bringing new help for the most 120,000 troubled families, the ones that live in a constant cycle of poverty, addiction and hopelessness.

For these families we’re bringing in professional, targeted help to get them into work, get the kids in school, help bring some order to their chaotic lives. And prevention means something else.

Some of those rioters last summer showed a complete indifference to the rules. We need to make clear to young people that respect is not something you can just expect, it’s something you earn.

So we’re bringing real discipline to schools – with teachers having more power to use reasonable force and take control of their classroom. And crucially, we’re focusing on those children who have been excluded from school.

Some Pupil Referral Units have been little more than a nursery class before the juvenile detention centre. So we’re turning failing PRUs into Academies, just as we are with failing schools, so that powerful, effective sponsors can bring the same radical improvements to them, as to some of the most challenged schools in the country.

On the other side of the coin we’re doing more to encourage good behaviour. National Citizen Service is about showing young people that they have responsibilities as well as rights, that they have a stake in our society.

Tens of thousands took part this year, and it is a personal passion of mine that in the coming years this should become a permanent part of the landscape in our country, a rite of passage that every teenager in every school goes through.

And all this fits into the bigger, broader picture of what this Government’s doing.

Whether it’s changing welfare so there’s no more something for nothing or putting the law on the side of victims and not criminals, we are re-scoring that line between right and wrong; between good behaviour and bad.

So I don’t want there to be any doubt how serious this Government is about law and order. Yes, we are tough – but we’re being intelligent too.

Not just giving police more power but giving people more power.

Not just speeding up our courts but opening them up.

Not just punishing but rehabilitating too.

By taking this approach we can cut crime even while cutting budgets. We can show law-abiding people that finally, the system is on your side.

And we can go to all those communities where life felt like a dead-end. Where crime felt inevitable; and we can restore hope and opportunity there too.

This is our goal. An aspiration nation. Where no one is left behind. And we are absolutely determined to achieve it.

David Cameron – Speech on the European Council

davidcameron

Below is the text of a Parliamentary statement made by the Prime Minister, David Cameron, to the House of Commons on Monday 22nd October 2012.

With permission, Mr Speaker, I would like to make a statement on last week’s European Council.

The European Union faces difficult choices in the coming months to meet tough economic challenges and to deal with the problems in the Eurozone.

There were no landmark decisions at this Council but there was some limited progress on both issues.

Mr Speaker, we are in a global economic race.

All European economies need to become more competitive, expanding the private sector, reforming welfare and improving education.

In terms of action at the EU level, that means: lifting the burdens on businesses, completing the single market and taking forward trade deals with the biggest economies and the fastest growing countries in the world.

I have consistently promoted these solutions and will continue to do so.

And at the Council we made some good progress.

On deregulation, I joined with others to secure a new agreement that specifically refers to withdrawing legislative proposals from Brussels that stifle our businesses.

Of course, we now need to see specific actions, but it is worth noting that the conclusions refer to the “intention to withdraw a number of pending proposals and to identify possible areas where the regulatory burden could be lightened”

On completion of the single market, as I reported in June there is a proper plan with dates and actions for completing the market in energy, services and digital.

These are reflected in both the Conclusions’ text and in the document issued with the Growth Compact.

Again it is vital that this plan is followed through to secure jobs and growth.

On trade, the Council agreed an ambitious agenda to create 2 million jobs across Europe.

This includes completing free trade deals with Canada and Singapore in the coming months and starting negotiations with the US next year on a comprehensive transatlantic trade and investment agreement.

And we made some new progress on launching negotiations with Japan “in the coming months.”

This deal could increase EU GDP by 42 billion euros.

Let me turn to the Eurozone.

Britain is not in the Eurozone – and we’re not going to be joining the Eurozone.

But it is in our national interest that the uncertainty surrounding the Eurozone comes to an end.

I have argued for some time that a working Eurozone needs a working banking union.

It is one of the features a successful single currency needs.

You don’t need a banking union because you have a single market you need it because you have a single currency.

So Britain should not – and will not – be part of it.

Britain’s banks will be supervised by the Bank of England, not the ECB.

And British taxpayers will not be guaranteeing or rescuing any Eurozone banks.

But we do need Eurozone members to get on and form a banking union.

And at this Council I joined those arguing for progress to be made on the plan announced in June.

Put simply, it is not enough having a banking union stripped of the very elements like mutualised deposit guarantees, a common fiscal backstop and a framework for rescuing banks that are needed to break the dangerous link in the Eurozone between sovereign debt problems and the stability of Eurozone banks.

But because not all countries outside the Eurozone will want to join such a banking union it’s also essential that the unity and integrity of the single market is fully respected.

The organisation that currently ensures a level playing field for banking within the single market is the European Banking Authority.

We need to make sure that it will continue to function properly, ensuring fair and effective decision making.

And this is specifically recognised in the Conclusions.

More broadly, as Eurozone countries take steps to deepen their economic and monetary union, I also secured an explicit commitment in the Conclusions that the final report and roadmap in December will include concrete proposals to ensure that the integrity of the single market is respected.

Finally, the next Council in November will discuss the financial framework for Europe between 2014 and 2020.

Mr Speaker, I have not put in place tough settlements in Britain in order to go to Brussels and sign up to big increases in European spending.

I don’t believe that German voters want that any more than British voters and that’s why our governments have led the argument in Europe for fiscal restraint.

So I put down a marker that we need a rigorous settlement.

As the letter signed in December 2010 by a number of European leaders said given the tough spending settlements that all Member States have had to pursue in their own countries -and I quote – “payment appropriations should increase, at most, by no more than inflation over the next financial perspectives.”

On foreign affairs, this Council, led by Britain, once again discussed further restrictive measures on the Syrian regime and made clear to Iran that we will increase the pressure if there isn’t progress on the nuclear dossier.

So Mr Speaker, making our economies competitive, dealing with uncertainty in the Eurozone, keeping the EU budget under proper control and making sure the EU speaks with a strong and united voice on the key international challenges – this is our agenda.

And I commend this statement to the House.

David Cameron – Speech at Britannia Naval College

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Below is the text of a speech made by the Prime Minister, David Cameron, at Britannia Naval College on Wednesday 17th October 2012.

It is a huge privilege to be here with you today. I have spoken at passing out parades at Sandhurst, and at Cranwell so I suppose you could say I’ve left the senior service and the best till last.

As Prime Minister, I get to spend quite a lot of time with our Armed  Forces. From visiting bases at home and abroad to meeting our top officers for briefings as part of our National Security Council. And I can just tell you this, there is nothing that makes me more proud of our country, of what we stand for in the world or what we’re capable of doing, than our Armed Forces.

You are the pride of Britain and to share this moment of celebration with you today is very  special.  The 68 of you passing out today come from nine countries; not just from Britain, but from Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Yemen and the United Arab Emirates, from Barbados, the Bahamas, Kuwait and Jordan.  And we are very proud that you’ve all chosen to come here for your training.

There will of course be huge challenges ahead, but as you leave here today I hope that you will take three things with you. First, pride in what you’ve achieved. Second, pride in the navy you are going to join. And third, pride in those things you are going to do in the future.

Let me take each in turn. You’ve been through 30 weeks of the toughest and best training that anyone could have.  You’ve done fitness training, weapons training, navigation, seamanship, leadership, boat handling. You’ve proved yourselves in challenging environments, from braving the elements of Dartmoor to deployment at sea in HMS Illustrious and HMS York.

Outwardly, you are fitter, leaner and stronger. Inwardly, more confident, more sure of your abilities and your own limits.  You have succeeded where other could not.  A third of those who sit the Admiralty interview board don’t get accepted in the first place.  Nearly a tenth of those who pass in, don’t pass out.  So your success is a great testament to your strength and to your endurance.  And you should take great pride in that.

The second thing I want you to take away is pride in the navy you’re going to join. For the Brits amongst you, you are quite simply becoming part of the navy with the greatest history in the world.  The Royal Navy is absolutely fundamental to our security as an island nation, and it is a vital part of our heritage. As Viscount Cunningham famously said at the Battle of Crete in 1941, ‘It takes three years to build a ship; it takes three centuries to build a tradition.’

You will stand on the shoulders of those that have come before you, those who saved Britain from invasion, who swept the evil of slavery off the high seas, who’ve won great victories in every corner of the globe, and those who defeated Hitler and preserved our freedom. Our ships, submarines and naval air squadrons carry battle honours that literally span every part of the planet.  In my generation alone we have sent the Navy to the Falklands, to the Gulf twice, and recently to Libya, and not forgetting the constant patrolling of the nuclear deterrent, the South Atlantic patrols, the countering of Somali piracy, and capacity building across the world.

A shell casing from HMS Liverpool sits in my office in Number 10 Downing Street. It was the last fired in anger in the Libya campaign, and it is a permanent reminder to me of the Royal Navy and its work to defend freedom.  Put simply, the words carved into the front of this imposing building remain as meaningful today as they were 350 years ago.  It is on the Navy, under the providence of God, that our wealth, prosperity and peace depend.

Now that leads me to the third thing I want you to take away,  pride in what you’re going to do.  The challenges you face over the coming years may place demands on you experienced by few others of your age in the world today. Because, despite the technology of today, being in the armed forces is an intensely human business.  It is based on personal relationships and the ability of people like you to lead your fellow men and women, even in the face of danger. And there is no greater honour that a nation can bestow than the trust to lead your fellow men and women.  That is the task that you will have. Your training here has given you the best possible start.  You will need to continue to develop all these skills and more.  But I want you to be proud of the difference that you can make.  Quite simply, you will be helping to defend our way of life, and there is no greater calling than that.

In return for all you will give to your country, I want your country to have pride in you. As a Government, we will do everything we can to support you, to look after your families, and to rebuild the  Military Covenant that is so important to this country and, I believe, everyone who lives in it.  People expect us to do the right thing by you, and we must.

But today is about you and what you will do, about your service and your leadership. So let me finish with the words of His Majesty King George VI, engraved on a plaque in the college next to his statue: ‘Nobody can lead unless he has the gift of vision and the desire in his soul to leave things in the world a little better than he found them. He will strive for something which may appear unattainable but which he believes in his heart can one day be reached, if not by him, by his successors if he can help to pave the way.’

What you will do is not just important for our country today but for generations to come. I wish you all the very best for the future and, once again, congratulations on this very, very special day.  Thank you.

David Cameron – 2012 Address to the United Nations General Assembly

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Below is the text made by the Prime Minister, David Cameron, to the United Nations General Assembly on Wednesday 26th September 2012.

Mr President, Deputy Secretary General, Excellencies, Distinguished Delegates, Ladies and Gentlemen.

I am proud that this year Britain welcomed the world to the Olympic and Paralympic games and put on a great display showing that while we may only have the 22nd largest population, we can roll out one of the warmest welcomes in the world.

I am honoured too that in this coming year I have been asked to co-chair the High Level Panel to build one of our greatest achievements with the Millennium Development Goals.

Britain takes this very seriously.

I am convinced that we need to focus more than ever on the building blocks that take countries from poverty to prosperity. The absence of conflict and corruption. The presence of property rights and the rule of law. We should never forget that for many in the world the closest relative of poverty is injustice. Development has never been just about aid or money, but I am proud that Britain is a country that keeps its promises to the poorest in the world.

Mr President, a year ago I stood here and argued that the Arab Spring represented an unprecedented opportunity to advance peace, prosperity and security.

One year on, some believe that the Arab Spring is in danger of becoming an Arab Winter.

They point to the riots on the streets, Syria’s descent into a bloody civil war, the frustration at the lack of economic progress and the emergence of newly elected Islamist-led governments across the region.

But they are in danger of drawing the wrong conclusion.

Today is not the time to turn back – but to keep the faith and redouble our support for open societies, and for people’s demands for a job and a voice.

Yes, the path is challenging. But democracy is not – and never has been – just about simply holding an election. It is not one person, one vote, once. It’s about establishing the building blocks of democracy, the independence of the judiciary and the rule of law, with the majority prepared to defend the rights of the minority, the freedom of the media, a proper place for the army in society and the development of effective state institutions, political parties and wider civil society.

I am not naive in believing that democracy alone has some magical healing power. I am a Liberal Conservative, not a Neo-Conservative. I respect the different histories and traditions that each country has. I welcome the steps taken in countries where reform is happening with the consent of the people.  I know that every country takes its own path. And that progress will sometimes be slow.

Some countries have achieved stability and success based on tradition and consent. Others have endured decades in which the institutions of civil society were deliberately destroyed.

Political parties banned. The free media abolished. The rule of law twisted for the benefit of the few. We cannot expect the damage of decades to be put right in a matter of months.  But the drive for opportunity, justice and the rule of law and the hunger for a job and a voice are not responsible for the problems in the region. Quite the opposite.

The building blocks of democracy, fair economies and open societies are part of the solution, not part of the problem. And we in the United Nations must step up our efforts to support the people of these countries as they build their own democratic future. Let me take the key arguments in turn.

First of all, there are those who say there has been too little progress, that the Arab Spring has produced few tangible improvements in people’s lives. This isn’t right. Look at Libya since the fall of Gaddafi. We have seen elections to create a new Congress.

And now plans to integrate armed groups into the national police and army. None of this is to ignore the huge and sobering challenges that remain.  The murder of Ambassador Chris Stevens was a despicable act of terrorism. But the right response is to finish the work Chris Stevens gave his life to. And that’s what the vast majority of Libyans want too.

As we saw so inspiringly in Benghazi last weekend, they are taking to the streets in their thousands, refusing to allow extremists to hijack their chance for democracy. The Arab Spring has also brought progress in Egypt where the democratically elected President has asserted civilian control over the military, in Yemen and Tunisia where elections have also brought new governments to power and in Morocco where there’s a new constitution – and a Prime Minister appointed on the basis of a popular vote for the first time. And even further afield, Somalia has also taken a vital step forward by electing a new President.

So there has been progress. And none of it would have come about without people standing up last year and demanding change and this United Nations having the courage to respond.

Second, there is the argument that the removal of dictators has started to unleash a new wave of violence, extremism and instability. Some argue that in a volatile region only an authoritarian strong man can maintain stability and security. Or even that recent events prove that democracy in the Middle East brings terrorism not security and sectarian conflict not peace. Again I believe we should reject this argument.

I have no illusions about the danger that political transition can be exploited by violent extremists. I understand the importance of protecting people and defending national security.

And Britain is determined to work with our allies to do this. But democracy and open societies are not the problem.

The fact is that for decades, too many were prepared to tolerate dictators like Gaddafi and Assad on the basis that they would both keep their people safe at home .and promote stability in the region and the wider world. In fact, neither was true. Not only were these dictators repressing their people, ruling by control not by consent, plundering the national wealth and denying people their basic rights and freedoms, they were funding terrorism overseas as well.

Brutal dictatorship made the region more dangerous not less. More dangerous because these regimes dealt with frustration at home by whipping up anger against their neighbours, the West and Israel. And more dangerous too, because people denied a job and a voice were given no alternative but a dead end choice between dictatorship or extremism.

What was heartening about the events of Tahrir Square was that the Egyptian people found their voice and rejected this false choice. They withheld their consent from a government that had lost all legitimacy. And they chose instead the road to a more open and fair society. The road is not easy – but it is the right one and it can make countries safer in the end.  Next, there are those who say that, whatever may have been achieved elsewhere, in Syria, the Arab Spring has unleashed a vortex of sectarian violence and hatred with the potential to destroy the region.

Syria does present profound challenges. But those who look at Syria today and blame the Arab Spring have got it the wrong way round. You can not blame the people for the behaviour of a brutal dictator. The responsibility lies with the brutal dictator himself. Assad is today inflaming Syria’s sectarian tensions, just as his father did as far back as the slaughter in Hama 30 years ago.

And not only in Syria.  Assad has colluded with those in Iran who are set on dragging the region in to wider conflict. The only way out of Syria’s nightmare is to move forward towards political transition and not to give up the cause of freedom.The future for Syria is a future without Assad. It has to be based on mutual consent as was clearly agreed in Geneva in June.

But if anyone was in any doubt about the horrors that Assad has inflicted on his people, just look at the evidence published by Save the Children this week; schools used as torture centres, children as target practice.  A 16 year old Syrian called Wael who was detained in a police station in Dera’a said: “I have seen children slaughtered. No, I do not think I will ever be ok again…If there was even 1% of humanity in the world, this would not happen”.

The blood of these young children is a terrible stain on the reputation of this United Nations. And in particular, a stain on those who have failed to stand up to these atrocities and in some cases aided and abetted Assad’s regime of terror. If the United Nations Charter is to have any value in the 21st Century we must now join together to support a rapid political transition. And at the same time no-one of conscience can turn a deaf ear to the voices of suffering.  Security Council Members have a particular responsibility to support for the UN appeal for Syria.

Britain, already the third biggest donor, is today announcing a further $12 million in humanitarian support, including new support for UNICEF’s work helping Syrian children. And we look to our international partners to do more, as well.

Of course the Arab Spring hasn’t removed overnight the profound economic challenges these countries face. Too many countries face falling investment, rising food prices and bigger trade deficits. But it’s completely wrong to suggest the Arab Spring has created these economic problems.  It’s a challenging time for the world economy as a whole.  And there was never going to be an economic transformation overnight, not least because far from being successful, open, market-based economies, many of these countries were beset by vested interests and corruption, with unaccountable institutions.  And this created a double problem.

Not just fragile economies, but worse, people were told they had experienced free enterprise and open markets – when they had experienced nothing of the sort.
We must help them unwind this legacy of endemic corruption, military expenditure they can’t afford, natural resources unfairly exploited – in short, mass kleptocracy that they suffered under for so long.

And while I’m on the subject of stolen assets, we also have a responsibility to help these countries get back the stolen assets that are rightfully theirs, just as we have returned billions of dollars of assets to Libya.  It is simply not good enough that the Egyptian people continue to be denied these assets long after Mubarak has gone.

Today I am announcing a new British Task Force to work with the Egyptian government to gather evidence, trace assets, work to change EU law and pursue the legal cases that will return this stolen money to its rightful owners the Egyptian people.

Finally, and perhaps most challenging of all for Western countries like mine, is the argument that elections have simply opened the door to Islamist parties whose values are incompatible with truly open societies. My response to this is clear.  We should respect the outcome of elections. But we should not compromise on our definition of what makes an open society. We should judge these Islamists by what they do. The test is this.

Will you entrust the rights of citizenship to your countrymen and women who do not share your specific political or religious views? Do you accept that – unlike the dictators you replaced – you should never pervert the democratic process to hold onto power if you lose the consent of the people you serve? Will you live up to your commitments to protect the rule of law for all citizens, to defend the rights of Christians and minorities and to allow women a full role in society, in the economy and in politics? Because the truth is this: you can not build strong economies, open societies and inclusive political systems if you lock out women. The eyes of the world may be on the Brothers, but the future is as much in the hands of their mothers, sisters and daughters.

Holding Islamists to account must also mean that if they attempt to undermine the stability of other countries or if they encourage terrorism instead of peace and conflict instead of partnership, then we will oppose them. That is why, Iran will continue to face the full force of sanctions and scrutiny from this United Nations until it gives up its ambitions to spread a nuclear shadow over the world.  And it is also why we will not waver from our insistence that Hamas gives up violence.  Hamas must not be allowed to dictate the way forward.

Palestinians should have the chance to fulfil the same aspirations for a job and a voice as others in region and we support their right to have a State and a home.  And Israelis should be able to fulfil their own aspirations to live in peace and security with their neighbours.

So, of course there are challenges working with governments that have different views and cultural traditions. But there’s a fundamental difference between Islam and extremism.

Islam is a great religion observed peacefully and devoutly by over a billion people. Islamist extremism is a warped political ideology supported by a minority that seeks to hijack a great religion to gain respectability for its violent objectives. It’s vital that we make this distinction. In Turkey, we see a government with roots in Islamic values, but one with democratic politics, an open economy and a responsible attitude to supporting change in Libya, Syria and elsewhere in the region. I profoundly believe the same path is open to Egypt, Tunisia and their neighbours.  And we must help them take it. Democracy and Islam can flourish alongside each other. So let us judge governments not by their religion – but by how they act and what they do. And let us engage with the new democratic governments in Egypt, Tunisia and Libya so that their success can strengthen democracy not undermine it.

Mr President, there is no doubt that we are in the midst of profound change and that many uncertainties lie ahead. But the building blocks of democracy, fair economies and open societies are part of the solution not part of the problem. Indeed, nothing in the last year has changed my fundamental conviction.

The Arab Spring represents a precious opportunity for people to realise their aspirations for a job, a voice and a stake in their own future.

And we, in this United Nations, must do everything we can to support them.

David Cameron – 2012 Speech on Railway Investment

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Below is the transcript of the speech made by the Prime Minister, David Cameron, in Birmingham on 16th July 2012.

PRIME MINISTER

Good morning everyone, and welcome. We got you here to help the headline writers with sharing platforms, minding gaps, trains on track and I am sure you will think of some others; no, the real reason for being here is that this is the next stage in the biggest investment in our rail network since Victorian times.

Already as a government, we have put in place £18 billion of investment by March 2015. Today we are announcing accelerated investment by network rail beyond that, with over £9 billion of investment between 2014 and 2019. We are creating a fast, modern, reliable railway with more capacity and cleaner electric trains. It is about getting people, and of course freight, off the roads and onto the railways.

While just ten miles of track were electrified in the last 13 years, we can commit to over 850 more miles of electric railway by 2019. By the time this is complete, around three quarters of all rail journeys in England and Wales will be made on electric trains. Here in Birmingham, we are already transforming New Street station with High Speed 2 to come as well. Today we are announcing more capacity and electric lines for the region.

There is good news for Wales, where we are committing to electrify the line all the way to Swansea and into the Welsh valleys. In the Midlands I can announce that we are electrifying the midland main line, from Sheffield to London. This has been talked about for years, actually decades, but it is this government that has got the finance and is really getting things moving.

In the North, we are committed to delivering the Northern Hub transformation, which will see a massive improvement in services between Liverpool, Manchester, Leeds and Sheffield.

In the South East, as well as Crossrail – which is of course the biggest construction project anywhere in Europe – London and the South East will receive an extra £700 million to support the capital’s economy and allow an extra 120,000 commuter journeys every day.

Heathrow airport will get a much needed direct connection to the West – again something that has been talked about a lot, which is now being delivered – so that trains from the West Country and Wales can reach the airport directly.

There is more to come this week, with the Chancellor and Chief Secretary setting out plans to use the strength of the government’s balance sheet to support further investment in the country’s infrastructure. We can do this only because we have a credible deficit reduction plan that is trusted and allows us to invest for the long-term.

I would argue that this is just one aspect of the long-term mission of this coalition government. Of course the coalition has come into question, some asking whether it has real momentum for the rest of this Parliament; others even asking whether it should end. I just want to say I am even more committed to making this coalition government work today than I was in May 2010 when Nick Clegg and I formed this government. I believe it has real purpose, a real mission.

I do not just believe this because the world has become even more dangerous and difficult than 2010, although it undoubtedly has; switch on your television sets and you can see weak governments being buffeted by events and economic difficulties. It is vital that this government has the majority, has the decisiveness, and has the strength to keep our economy safe, to cut our deficit – which we have done by a quarter in two years – and to have all the drive that we need for economic growth in the years ahead.

I would argue that as well as that clear justification, because of economic difficulties and uncertainties, there is also, I think, a huge momentum in this government behind the agendas that the Liberal Democrats and the Conservatives share.

We are both absolutely committed to rebalancing our economy; it became too dependent on finance, on the South East, on the public sector and we need jobs and growth from the private sector that I think is absolutely vital. 800,000 new jobs in the private sector since May 2010; last year the best ever year for establishing new businesses in Britain, but frankly there is much more we need to do to rebalance. Both parties are committed to that.

Both parties are also absolutely committed to driving aspiration and giving people life chances in our country by reforming education. We announced last Friday an extra 100 free schools; something governments of one party have never done, breaking open the state monopoly of education, providing great new schools, great new education for children, real rigour in terms of discipline, exam standards, helping people to achieve their potential.

Another absolutely shared mission is what the Deputy Prime Minister calls ‘alarm clock Britain’, what I call being on the side of people who work hard and want to get on, is reforming welfare so that it actually pays to work rather than not to work. We have capped welfare; we are introducing universal credit so you are always better off in working and always better off if you work more.

I also believe there is a shared agenda on making sure that Britain stands tall in the world. We will complete the united [indistinct] over the mission that we carried out with allies in Libya, which has resulted in the first free elections in that country for over four decades. We stand together for freedom and democracy in Syria. We back Britain’s expanded aid budget, to make sure that Britain has a moral purpose in the world but also to safeguard our interests.

Those are just some of the areas I would mention where there is a great common interest, a driving mission, for this government. I would argue that we have achieved some things in two years that have eluded single party governments that have been in office for over a decade.

We were always told, ‘You can’t reform public sector pensions’; we have, and we have cut that cost by almost a half. We are always told, ‘You can’t reform welfare’; we are well down that track. We have also grappled with difficult subjects like higher education reform, to make sure we can go on having well-funded universities that will serve our economy and young people in the future.

There is much more to come on all of these agendas; we will be publishing a midterm review at the end of the summer, as we go into autumn, looking at the things we have achieved so far and also setting out the next goals and objectives of things this coalition government wants to achieve in the remainder of this Parliamentary term.

I say this Parliamentary term, because that is what this government is for. I think it is important we have that fixed term, we have that fixed government; people know, the markets know, businesses know there is strong decisive government throughout this term.

What has driven this government is a view that we need to get things done, a view that we need to safeguard the British economy in difficult times but above all that what we do is about the national interest. That is what drives the Deputy Prime Minister and me; that is what this government is all about; that is its foundation.

I think today, with this big rail announcement, is yet another example of a long-term decision that will strengthen the British economy and also strengthen our society too.