Jack Straw – 2003 Statement on Iraq


Below is the text of the statement made by Jack Straw, the then Foreign Secretary, in the House of Commons on 17 March 2003.

With permission, Mr. Speaker, I should like to make a statement in respect of Iraq and the debate that will be held in the House tomorrow.

As the House will be aware, in the Azores yesterday my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister, Prime Minister Aznar of Spain, President Bush of the United States and Prime Minister Barroso of Portugal called on all members of the Security Council to adopt a resolution—which would have been its 18th on Iraq—to challenge Saddam to take a strategic decision to disarm his country of his weapons of mass destruction as required by Security Council resolution 1441. Such a resolution has never been needed legally, but we have long had a preference for it politically.

There has been intense diplomatic activity to secure that end over many months, culminating in the past 24 hours. Yesterday evening, our ambassador to the United Nations, Sir Jeremy Greenstock, consulted his fellow permanent representatives from other Security Council member states. Just this morning I spoke to my Spanish, American, Russian and Chinese counterparts.

Despite those final efforts, I regret to say that we have reluctantly concluded that a Security Council consensus on a new resolution would not be possible. On my instructions, Sir Jeremy Greenstock made a public announcement to that effect at the United Nations at about 3.15 pm UK time today.

What we know about the Iraqi regime’s behaviour over many years is that there is the greatest chance of their finally responding to the United Nations obligations on them if they face a united Security Council. So, over the months since resolution 1441 was unanimously adopted by the Security Council in early November, the Prime Minister and I, and our ambassador to the United Nations, have strained every nerve in search of that consensus which could finally persuade Iraq, by peaceful means, to provide the full and immediate co-operation demanded by the Security Council.

Significantly, in all the discussions in the Security Council and outside, no one has claimed that Iraq is in full compliance with the obligations placed on it. Given that, it was my belief, up to about a week ago, that we were close to achieving the consensus that we sought on the further resolution. Sadly, one country then ensured that the Security Council could not act. President Chirac’s unequivocal announcement last Monday that France would veto a second resolution containing that or any ultimatum “whatever the circumstances” inevitably created a sense of paralysis in our negotiations. I deeply regret that France has thereby put a Security Council consensus beyond reach.

I need to spell out that the alternative proposals submitted by France, Germany and Russia for more time and more inspections carry no ultimatum and no threat of force. They do not implement resolution 1441 but seek to rewrite it. To have adopted such proposals would have allowed Saddam to continue stringing out inspections indefinitely, and he would rightly have drawn the lesson that the Security Council was simply not prepared to enforce the ultimatum that lies at the heart of resolution 1441: in the event of non-compliance, Iraq, as operational paragraph 13 spells out, should expect “serious consequences.”

As a result of Saddam Hussein’s persistent refusal to meet the UN’s demands, and the inability of the Security Council to adopt a further resolution, the Cabinet has decided to ask the House to support the United Kingdom’s participation in military operations, should they be necessary, with the objective of ensuring the disarmament of Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction, and thereby the maintenance of the authority of the United Nations.

From the outset of this crisis the Government have promised that, if possible, the House would have the opportunity to debate our involvement in military action prior to the start of hostilities and on a substantive motion. The House will have that opportunity tomorrow. Copies of the motion, proposed by the Prime Minister and Cabinet colleagues, have been placed in the Vote Office.

In addition to dealing with military action the motion states that in the event of military operations the House requires that

“on an urgent basis, the United Kingdom should seek a new Security Council Resolution that would affirm Iraq’s territorial integrity, ensure rapid delivery of humanitarian relief, allow for the earliest possible lifting of UN sanctions, an international reconstruction programme, and the use of all oil revenues for the benefit of the Iraqi people and endorse an appropriate post-conflict administration for Iraq”.

In addition, the resolution goes on to endorse the middle east peace process as encapsulated in the imminent publication of the road map. I understand, Mr. Speaker, that you will be specifying the time by which amendments to this motion must be received. My hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary, Privy Council Office will make a short business statement immediately after the proceedings on this statement.

To inform the debate, I have circulated several documents to all right hon. and hon. Members today. These include a copy of the response from my noble and learned Friend the Attorney-General to a written question in the House of Lords in which he sets out the legal basis for the use of force against Iraq, as well as a detailed briefing paper summarising the legal background which I have sent to the Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee. I have also made available a note summarising Iraq’s record of non-compliance with resolution 1441. A new Command Paper comprising key recent United Nations documents, including the 173 pages of Dr Blix’s paper on “Unresolved Disarmament Issues: Iraq’s Proscribed Weapons Programmes”, which was published on 7 March in the Security Council, is now available in the Vote Office.

The debate tomorrow will be the most important in the House for many years. Some say that Iraq can be disarmed without an ultimatum, without the threat or the use of force, but simply by more time and more inspections. That approach is defied by all our experience over 12 weary years. It cannot produce the disarmament of Iraq; it cannot rid the world of the danger of the Iraqi regime. It can only bring comfort to tyrants and emasculate the authority of the United Nations. It is for these reasons that we shall tomorrow be asking the House to endorse and support the Government’s resolution.

Gordon Brown – 2003 Speech on Balancing Work and Family Life


Below is the text of the speech made by Gordon Brown, the then Chancellor of the Exchequer, at HM Treasury in Whitehall, London on 14 January 2003.

April this year brings the biggest change in children’s benefits for decades.

The new child tax credit that comes in will mean more cash for families earning up to as much as £58,000. In the first year of a child’s life families on up to £66,000 will get some help.

9 out of 10 families with children qualify.

And today Patricia Hewitt and I want to set out in detail the additional support for parents doing the most important job of all – raising their children – and how we propose to do more to help parents as they struggle to balance work and family life.

Instead of being paid through the pay packet to the main earner, normally the father, we will pay the child tax credit direct to the main carer, usually the mother.

And survey results that we are publishing today show that 67 per cent of people believe that all support for children should be paid to the mother, and only 1 per cent think that it should be paid to the father.

Even the vast majority of men – 64 per cent – believe all support for children should be paid to the mother.

When asked who was most likely to ensure that the money goes to the needs of the children, 70 per cent agreed it was the mother.

So just as it is right that child benefit is paid to mum, it is right that all children’s benefits go direct to the mother who often buys the food, purchases the kids clothes and knows the child’s needs best.

So with the new tax credits, up to £2 billion will transfer from dads to mums – providing them and their children with a secure and regular income. Money that – as research shows – is then more likely to be spent on the child by the carer – normally the mum.

It is the biggest financial boost for mothers since the introduction of child benefit in the 1970s and a £2 billion transfer of resources from men’s pay packets to women’s purses.

Transferred from dads, to mums – for their children.

From April most mothers will receive at least £26.50 per week for the first child, made up of the new child tax credit and child benefit. For most families at least £10 a week will be transferred from fathers to mothers.

There is a nationwide advertising campaign in newspapers, on TV and radio.

Mothers who have not already done so should fill in their family’s form to ensure the cash comes on time.

It means more money for the mother and a little less for the father.

But overall child support is increasing fast as we recognise the costs parents incur bringing up their children.

I hope every family will claim and receive the new money for their children.

A tax and benefit system that puts families first in the modern world should not just recognise the family as the bedrock of society, and the rights and responsibilities of parents, but also the very real pressures parents face right up the income scale. It should materially help them balance the needs of work and family and be generous enough to ensure for each child a good start in life.

Our approach applies the 1942 Beveridge principle – that nothing should be done to remove from parents the responsibility of maintaining their children and it is in the national interest to help parents to discharge their responsibilities properly – to the realities and needs of modern family life.

Today many families rely on two incomes and most women work. In over two-thirds of couples, both parents work. More than half Britain’s single-parents are in work. Overall, some 36 per cent of those in work have a dependent child.

And some of the greatest pressures parents face were almost unknown in Beveridge’s time: the loss of income because one parent ceases employment and is at home or works part time after the birth of a child; or the costs of childcare when the mother goes out to work.

April’s new tax credits tailor support for each family and make it easier for parents to choose how to balance work and family life:

if a mother wishes to stay off work longer when her child is born our tax credits, worth more for the first year of a child’s life, make it easier to do so;

– if a mother wishes to work part time there is support but, if couples want to share work to suit them, they can qualify for the 30-hour element if they jointly work 30 hours or more;

– and if mothers return to work but need the reassurance of child care the tax credits also provide better help with childcare costs – with the amount of money responding more quickly to changes in costs and the childcare help available to pay for formal childcare at home, which will be especially useful to shift workers or parents of disabled children.

We are introducing these reforms because it matters to enlarge the range of choices that help balance work and family life and recognise the pressures parents face as they make the trade-off between time and money, family and job.

So tax credits help square the circle by making it easier for one parent to remain at home and care for the children if they choose to, but also making work pay and childcare more affordable if both parents choose to work.

And we enlarge the range of choices for mothers and fathers with tax credits backed up by:

– our rises in maternity pay to £100 a week from April;

– paid maternity leave increasing to 26 weeks;

– Britain’s first-ever paid paternity leave;

– and 250,000 more childcare places by 2006;

All real changes to ensure parents have a real choice in balancing work and family life: a choice to stay at home – especially when children are young; to work part-time; to work full-time with suitable childcare; a choice to share the parenting responsibility between the mother and the father.

And with the work-life balance document published today, Patricia Hewitt and I are looking at ways of enlarging these choices still further:

– making it easier for employers to contribute to child care and for families to use a home childcarer, so that people who are not already childminders can take part. This will increase choice for parents and increase the supply of formal childcare.

– considering whether to allow fathers time off to attend ante-natal care and to extend paid paternity leave

– considering the case for giving a mother on paid maternity leave help with the costs of settling her child into childcare before returning to work.

So putting families first means transferring money from dads to mums – for children; supporting parents as they balance the responsibilities of both work and family life; helping parents as they do the most important and difficult job of all – getting their children off to a good start.

And because it is our objective to make sure no child will go without help, that every child will have the chance to make the most of their lives, support for the first child can rise as high as £54.25 a week.

I will now hand over to Patricia who will talk in more detail about our work-life balance proposals.

And in the proposals we both make today we are responding to the needs of families who in today’s fast changing economy want to know they don’t have to go it alone and who, anxious about doing their best for their children while making ends meet, want a tax-benefit system for families that is on their side.

Gordon Brown – 2003 Speech at Chatham House


Below is the text of the speech made by Gordon Brown, the then Chancellor of the Exchequer, at Chatham House in London on 22 January 2003.

It is a privilege to be here at Chatham House at this important and timely conference:

To thank the companies represented here today for the contribution you are making – by your innovation, dynamism and international reach – to the progress of the global economy;

And to celebrate the contribution you are making – through your programmes for community development – to the progress of global society.

When I look round the world I am simply amazed by the range of socially responsible business activity, the breadth of social engagement and the scale of your community involvement. And I am particularly pleased to be speaking at this conference which is bringing together government, business, NGOs and faith groups — a partnership that was critical to the advances made at the Johannesburg Summit on Sustainable Development last year; a partnership that is now even more critical to the next stage of international development in future years.

And today I want to talk about the special part business can play in the international development process:

How socially responsible business behaviour in 2003 is more than corporate philanthropy;

How business investing and operating in developing countries can help generate both economic growth and social development;

And how, in the modern world, policies that make for the good economy and policies that make for the good society need not be enemies but can be allies.

And I want to suggest how business – and, specifically, business, governments and NGOs working together – can, from this year, play an even more central role in the development process —- partners in development not through charity hand outs but by company engagement.

In particular, I will suggest how business can be at the heart of what some have called a modern Marshall Plan for the first decade of the twenty first century – a new deal for the global economy where in return for developing countries pursuing anti-corruption, pro-stability, pro-trade, pro-investment policies, developed countries make the necessary funds available to tackle long standing problems of ill-health, illiteracy, poverty and underdevelopment. A plan for development that is a moral imperative but also a smart business proposition: enlightened self interest at its best.

Let me put what I say in context.

If the world economy is to sustain high rates of growth in the years to come, growth can and must come from bringing developing countries into the development process — making them engines of growth for the world economy and thus bringing the millions who live in these countries into the modern productive economy, bringing them in as consumers of the goods and services produced.

Today, developing countries account for eighty per cent of the world’s population, five billion potential consumers, but they only account for twenty per cent of global GDP.

The World Bank estimates that by 2050 developing countries will represent nearer ninety per cent of the world’s population, eight billion potential consumers.

The World Bank estimates also show that maintaining the current average rate of world economic growth demands faster growth rates in developing countries and a doubling of their share in global GDP to forty per cent by 2050.

In other words, to sustain current global growth rates, the GDP of developing countries that is just $6 trillion today would increase nearly ten fold to $56 trillion in the next 50 years, releasing massive productive and purchasing power.

It is therefore not just that NGOs, business and governments have common cause in wishing this to happen but that for the world economy as a whole to prosper, and for the companies operating in it to have markets that expand, developing countries’ growth is a necessity.

Put it another way: we are unlikely, in the rich countries, to maintain the growth rates we have enjoyed over the past twenty years unless we continue to bring the poorest countries into the development process.

The potential rise in the annual output of developing countries from $6 trillion to $56 trillion represents a significant opportunity for future prosperity for us all – companies seeking markets, developed economies seeking trade, developing countries seeking growth and prosperity.

So just as East Asia and China have become over the last two decades engines of growth for the world economy, and just as when poverty decreases and income per capita increases these countries have become a source of demand both in their immediate region and in the wider global economy — China for example is now the sixth largest economy and the number one destination for foreign direct investment among developing countries — so too today’s developing countries can and must become tomorrow’s developed countries: releasing the productive potential of their people, then their purchasing power, as sources of demand and growth for the next stage of the global economy’s development.

The issue for us then is that of course it is a good idea and morally right that developing countries move from poverty to prosperity. But it is also that for the development of the world it is an economic necessity that this should happen — showing us that church and faith groups, NGOs, business and governments in developed and developing countries all have a similar interest in the economic and social development of the poorest countries.

And so I want to suggest today that it makes good sound business sense for business to invest and act in the most responsible manner in developing countries: a smart solution for the next stage of the global economy’s development.

So let me address three issues today.

First what we mean by corporate social responsibility.

Second whether there is a consensus that business and NGOs as well as governments can now join about how development can best proceed and how best we support the development process.

And finally I want to set out a new international initiative that I believe business and NGOs as well as developed and developing country governments can support.

All of us come to the issues raised by corporate social responsibility in different ways – sometimes because we are business managers doing a lot, sometimes as charities wanting business to do more, sometimes as men and women who have seen at first hand the contrast between what Churchill called the accumulated excesses of wealth and the gaping sorrows of the left out millions.

Now I was brought up in Fife, with a fascination from my earliest days in the life and works of Andrew Carnegie. Dunfermline, the town which gives its name to my constituency in Scotland, is the birthplace and the headquarters of the Carnegie Trust: formed in 1901 by the world’s then richest man Andrew Carnegie, and for a century engaged in philanthropic works locally and round the world. In his early years Carnegie had made money. In his later years he gave most of it away.

But in recent years corporate social responsibility which started, for many companies, as something akin to the philanthropic engagement of the older Carnegie has evolved into a far deeper understanding of what benefits business and benefits our economy — corporate citizenship now understood to be something very broad indeed:

A recognition that business activities have a wider impact on the society in which you operate;

An attempt to advance economic, social and environmental goods together;

The good economy and the good society pursued together by businesses working as part of the communities around them;

And the good economy and good society seen not as irreconcilable opposites but dependent on each other — enterprise and fairness marching forward together.

And in these last few decades – as socially responsible business behaviour has come to mean not just charity philanthropy but also greater transparency, environmental care, direct engagement in community involvement – I believe it is true to say that in this redefinition of corporate social responsibility — as it has moved from the margins to the mainstream, from the arena of charity to the arena of corporate strategy, the emphasis no longer just on external giving but now internal business processes, the focus less on how companies give money away to focusing on how companies make money — many of the British companies represented today have been leading the world.

Corporate social responsibility broadening all the time into a belief that economic, social and environmental objectives can be pursued together and in harmony. And in particular that corporate self-interest and corporate social responsibility are not irreconcilable opposites but can progress together.

The new understanding of corporate social responsibility is a recognition, in part, that in business trust is critical to success; that reputation management is essential; that a brand must enjoy people’s confidence; that long-termism matters; and that there is something in corporate responsibility that is the smart solution for business and for long-term economic growth.

A recognition that when business loses trust and then legitimacy – either through lack of transparency or social engagement or irresponsibility, whether it be Enron or WorldCom – it is at its most vulnerable.

And so there is a growing recognition that corporate social responsibility does not just relate to your own competitiveness as a business but defines it; that social responsibility is not an optional extra but a necessity – not a part of the business of a company but at its heart, not a sideshow but a centrepiece, not incidental but integral to what you do.

The late economist James Tobin has been one of many to demonstrate the growing importance of assets such as intellectual capital, skills, research and development, brands, relationships and reputation in the knowledge economy.

So the lessons we all learn are that being transparent matters to your ability to recruit, sell, inspire trust and create wealth.

Accounting for your environmental impact matters to your ability to recruit, sell, inspire trust and create wealth.

Engaging in your community matters to your ability to recruit, sell, inspire trust and create wealth.

Engaging in international development in Africa and elsewhere matters for your ability to recruit, sell, inspire trust and create wealth.

And the engagement of business at the sustainable development conference in Johannesburg marked a turning point, from the time when business was outside the gates whenever international politicians got together, to a time when rightly business was firmly at the table, one of the partners in development – engaged in the smart as well as socially responsible solution to the challenges society faces.

So can business showing corporate social responsibility become an even more central part in the next stage of making globalisation work better for the poorest communities of the world? Now that social responsibility has moved from charitable philanthropy in its first generation, to social engagement in its second, I want to suggest we move to the third generation in corporate social responsibility — that we judge our results not just by the its input, the community involvement we seek to have, but by its results, the difference we make to poverty reduction on the ground in the developing world.

And I believe there is a growing new intellectual consensus that makes this new role of business possible and desirable.

Thirty years ago, twenty years ago, perhaps even ten years ago, the divisions between pro- and anti-globalisation campaigners would have been so fundamental that no meeting of minds would have been possible. But today many people who are wrongly labelled “anti-globalisation campaigners” – and who rightly campaign for trade on fair terms for developing countries – would also acknowledge:

The importance of markets;

The pivotal role of private capital;

And that while the unfettered power of any vested interest anywhere is unacceptable, private companies and private – not just public – investments are crucial to making global economic development work in the interests of the excluded.

But just as old forms of protectionism and anti market sentiment are increasingly questioned, so too is the old laissez-faire approach of doing nothing. Experience from the 1980s onwards has also moved us on from the assumption that just by liberalising, deregulating, privatising and simply getting prices right, growth and employment would inevitably follow – a set of assumptions about “absentee government” that has proved inadequate to meet the emerging challenges of globalisation in, for example, South East Asia where public investment has played a catalytic role in securing growth.

We know that stability is the precondition for global prosperity and growth. And because there is no long term trade off between inflation and growth or unemployment, it was of course right in the wake of the oil price rises of the 1970s that in the 1980s the control of inflation was the overriding priority – and today, country by country, the importance of monetary regimes that ensure low inflation is well understood.

As different understandings of the world economy converge, we are moving towards a new paradigm in which people agree that low inflation and fiscal stability are the necessary but not sufficient conditions for securing prosperity for all and that we should restore to the heart of economic policy the high ideals and public purpose of 1945 which made governments and countries have as their first objective to pursue for their and other countries the goals of high and sustainable levels of growth and employment as the means to prosperity for all.

And to achieve not just low inflation but sustainable development, there is again a growing consensus that the pursuit of economic stability requires also:

Public as well as private investment;

Policies for competition so that privatisation does not lead to monopoly and the triumph of vested interests;

And proper financial supervision as well as liberalisation, including a route map sequencing the liberalisation of capital markets.

And I believe that even as many NGOs express doubts about the fairness of free trade, the progress being made at Doha and beyond on the trade round can show that extending trade can be a benefit to all, especially developing countries, and not a threat.

There are of course central unresolved issues:

The labour practices of companies in the poorest countries;

The degree of transparency in company practices and the avoidance of corruption;

And how we can develop cross border systems of accountability under which companies which are not owned in but work in developing countries accept there should be scrutiny of their actions;

And I will come to these in the course of my remarks.

But overall I believe that as we see evolving the new global economy of open not sheltered economies, international not national capital markets, global not local competition, there is also a growing consensus that we need not to retreat from global economic cooperation but to strengthen it — building and sustaining an international financial system with well understood rules and procedures that make sense of the needs of developing countries in the twenty first century and it must be one where business plays its full part.

So apart from extremist views on each side, I believe that consensus is possible about the next steps forward – consensus that understands how developing countries have, in recent years, grown to become developed countries and what we must do as an international community to help others do the same.

How then can we work together to take that process forward?

We must continue to resist two opposite temptations:

The first is to retreat as anti globalisation protestors have sometimes done into a nihilism that suggests that global institutions can yield little that is good, withdrawing into an outdated protectionism and isolationism that would deprive developing countries of what they need most – development itself;

The second is to recycle the old laissez-faire that says there is nothing that can be done.

I believe that we need nothing less than a modern Marshall Plan for the new world.

America’s post-Second World War achievement in a plan proposed by the US Secretary of State George Marshall should be our inspiration in this post-cold war world. The plan originated as a response to the threat of communist terror in Greece and Turkey; it recognised that without the integration of ravaged economies into global economic development, social catastrophe would follow; it broadened into an economic plan for the reconstruction of the whole of a battered Europe; it invested unprecedented sums of money in aid for reconstruction; and it made possible the growth of trade between America and Europe that was responsible for the post 1945 global revival.

The plan transferred one per cent of national income every year, for four years, from America to Europe – in total the equivalent in today’s money of $75 billion a year – not as an act of charity but as a frank recognition that like peace, prosperity was indivisible and that to achieve this goal would require new public purpose and international cooperation on a massive scale.

Although today’s global new deal that I suggest is being constructed in new times, it is based on the Marshall Plan’s enduring values. Like our predecessors we understand that what has happened in Afghanistan and elsewhere raises global issues on terror to which we must respond with resolution but also about the integration of the poorest countries into our global economy. Like them we see that a world disfigured by poverty can neither be just nor stable. Like them we see national safety and global reconstruction are inextricably linked. Like them we see the need for a new economic leadership – a comprehensive plan that goes beyond temporary relief to wholesale economic and social development. Like them we see the need for a new global social and economic order grounded in both rights and responsibilities accepted by all. Like theirs, our proposals call on the poorest countries themselves to rise to the challenge.

There are four building blocks of this global new deal — and in each of these business has a role to play.

The first building block is an improvement in the terms on which the poorest countries participate in the global economy and actively increasing their capacity to do so.

This requires a new rules based system founded on:

Clear procedures – all countries, rich and poor, pursuing agreed codes and standards for fiscal and monetary transparency, and for corporate and social standards;

A new openness and transparency – with the international monetary fund as independent from political influence in its surveillance of economies as an independent central bank is in the operation of monetary policy.

The adoption of clear and transparent procedures in economic decisions – for example, presenting a full factual picture of the country’s debt position and the health of the financial sectors – and a willingness to be monitored for them improves stability, deters corruption and provides to markets a flow of specific country-by-country information that engenders greater investor confidence. We should all adopt and monitor similar codes and standards for corporate governance and accounting and auditing, working with standard setters to develop stronger regulatory frameworks.

So at the heart of the first building block – and key to stability – is transparency.

And with technical assistance and transitional help for early implementation of codes and standards, I hope developing countries will travel the road towards greater transparency — with a flow of information, including the systematic and regular production of fiscal and monetary data, the observance of high corporate standards, and the routine publication – by rich and poor countries alike, as well as the IMF – of all surveillance and programme reports, assessments of codes and standards, and IMF policy and administrative papers: greater transparency playing its part in reducing the risk of financial crises and of financial contagion.

But one area of transparency requires a major leap forward by business as they can play a key role in encouraging governments to be more accountable for the revenues they earn from their natural resources.

Some people underestimate the importance of this move but the current proposal to increase transparency in extractive industries is an excellent example of how private sector companies can positively contribute to development by helping to increase the likelihood of revenues from extraction being used for poverty reduction. This initiative, launched by the UK, is being developed by an ever increasing number of governments, companies, investors and NGOs. There has been great interest from the international business community and I am very pleased to see that many of those involved so far are present today. I urge business to continue to work with governments and NGOs in the run-up to the G8 Summit to build the wider consensus we need at international level for this proposal.

The second building block is moving forward and consolidating the great progress made at Doha at the World Trade Round by the swift and sequenced adoption of an improved trade regime essential for developing countries to participate on fair terms in the world economy.

Trade can be a powerful engine for growth. Research suggests that reducing or removing remaining restrictions on world trade would produce anywhere from $250 billion to upwards of $400 billion annually for the world economy, of which over a third would go to developing countries. And we all have work to do to achieve this – although a large proportion of the gains would come from developed country liberalisation, over half are predicted to come from developing countries’ own reforms.

Past evidence supports the link between developing countries’ own trade policies and growth. In the last forty years those developing countries which have managed to be more open and trade more in the world economy have seen faster growth rates than those which have remained closed. From the early 1970s through to the 1990s, developing countries that were able to pursue growth through trade grew at least twice as fast on average as those who kept their tariffs high and their doors closed to imports and competition.

We must ensure that all countries have the opportunity to reap these benefits and so must deliver on the commitments made at Doha:

We must ensure that poor countries have access to the medicines they need to tackle the diseases crippling their societies – AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria – and protect public health and we must urgently rectify last year’s failure to reach agreement in the WTO on this issue;

We must continue to press for other developed countries who have not yet done so to follow the European Union’s lead by offering duty and quota free access to all products except arms from the forty-nine least developed countries;

And since three quarters of the world’s poor live in rural areas, urgent action is needed to reduce agricultural protectionism and open up trade.

It is essential that the EU goes to the WTO Ministerial in Cancun, Mexico, this September with a positive, pro-development position in all areas – and we will continue to work with our EU partners to ensure this. And I urge business to join us in pressing hard for the discussions in Mexico to be fruitful and progressive and to join in the sector-by-sector discussions so that we maintain the momentum needed to successfully conclude the World Trade Round, with strong outcomes for developing countries, by January 2005.

The third building block – and this is where business has an even greater role – is the adoption by the international business community of high corporate standards for engagement as reliable and consistent partners in the development process and the creation in developing countries of the right domestic conditions for business investment.

Over the last decade, foreign direct investment flows across national boundaries, including to, and between, developing countries, have increased almost six-fold — an important driver for growth and development. But the poorest and least developed countries suffer a double handicap. Not only is foreign direct investment too low – with just $3 per head going to low income countries compared to $1100 per head to higher income countries – but often the small amount of domestically generated savings and investment that do exist leave the country in capital flight.

In seeking more favourable business environments in which private sector investment can be more productive, country-owned poverty reduction strategies have correctly focused on creating the right domestic conditions for business investment, including improved infrastructure, sound legal processes that deter corruption and the creation of an educated and healthy workforce. And we can list a number of countries recently – like Mozambique – which have taken tough decisions to restructure their banking sector, strengthen corporate governance, improve their transport infrastructure and develop their natural resources. In Mozambique this has resulted in a six-fold increase in foreign direct investment over the last decade and GDP growth rates averaging nine per cent over the last five years.

And, as good practice emerges, it can be shared.

Last year I supported the creation of new investment forums – bringing public and private sectors together to examine the current barriers to investment and build a consensus, in the light of regional conditions, on how to secure higher levels of investment.

I am delighted that the World Bank and IMF have now established two such forums in Ghana and Tanzania. These have been welcomed by both business and governments and are already identifying the priority reforms that will help increase investment flows – improvements to infrastructure, regulatory reform, the need for regional integration and the promotion of Africa as an investment destination for foreign firms.

Most importantly, investment forums are helping to break down the assumption that private sector development should either be led solely by business, or directed by the state – instead recognising that public and private sectors must work together in partnership to secure economic growth and reduce poverty — precisely why conferences like this, encouraging productive dialogue between government, business and civil society are so important.

Many businesses are already recognising the need to pursue socially and environmentally responsible business practice — following the principles of good corporate practice laid out in the OECD’s guidelines for multinational enterprises, signing up to the global reporting initiative and the ethical trading initiative – which is now flourishing, and assessing and making public their economic and social impact in developing countries. In this way businesses can become more rooted in the communities in which they operate, generating a genuine sense of investment and engagement — and it is crucial for more companies to follow this lead and to secure real shifts in the policies and practices of corporations, including on environmental and social issues.

One of the main fears of those who campaign against globalisation is that lax regulation in developing countries can result in a downward spiral of poor labour, environmental and regulatory standards, which will be exploited by large, unaccountable multinational companies.

So where international companies seem unaccountable across boundaries – and sometimes appear more powerful than the developing countries in which they operate – businesses and government must do more to restore the right balance, increase stakeholder awareness and achieve cross border accountability – shareholders and consumers holding companies to account wherever they may be located. Already in the UK we are seeing socially responsible investment gaining ground — with assets now totalling around £37 billion, it is the fastest growing segment of the market.

The challenges are formidable. The suspicions remain considerable. But I believe that by working with governments to remove barriers to investment, and through adopting sound principles of corporate practice, the private sector can play its part in the development of the world’s poorest countries.

Stability, trade and investment are all vital but there cannot be a solution to the problems that developing countries face without a fourth reform: a substantial transfer of additional resources from the richest to the poorest countries in the form of investment for development. Here the focus should not be on aid to compensate the poor for their poverty, but on investment that builds new capacity to compete and addresses the long term causes of poverty.

2000, 2001 and 2002 were years of progress for international development.

In 2000 for the first time the world community – international organisations, individual countries and non-governmental organisations – signed up to the historic shared task of meeting the millennium development goals by 2015 – including to eradicate extreme poverty, achieve universal primary education and radically reduce child and maternal mortality. Agreements on debt relief also released $62 billion for 26 countries with burdens of unpayable debt with potentially $100 billion of debt cancelled if all 38 eligible countries, including those countries in conflict, took part.

Last year at Monterrey and then at Johannesburg the international community signed up not only to a coherent and principled approach to development but also — with $12 billion a year of extra funding by 2006 – announced the first increase in official development aid for twenty years. In Canada in July 2002 a new partnership for Africa was initiated.

But the year 2003 begins with sadly little of the enthusiasm that usually greets a new year.

For while the world agreed little more than two years ago to these ambitious millennium development goals, we see famine ravaging sub-Saharan and Southern Africa and we are already at risk of not meeting these targets.

To reach the education goals, 80 million new primary school places will need to be created in Africa alone over the coming decade and UNESCO estimates that more than 70 countries will not achieve universal primary education by 2015.

On current forecasts 81 countries will not meet our goal of reducing child mortality by two thirds and in 55 per cent of sub-Saharan countries the maternal mortality rate is actually increasing.

On current trends, and without greatly increased growth, sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East, North Africa, Latin America, the Caribbean and the transition economies of Europe and Central Asia will all fail to see the halving of their poverty by 2015. In fact, in the past ten years, those regions have actually seen an increase of over 100 million people living on under $1 a day and globally there has only been a 10 per cent drop in levels of extreme poverty.

As I speak, almost 40 million men, women and children in sub-Saharan Africa are facing famine – and for many, death.

The world must act quickly and boldly to avoid today’s crisis becoming tomorrow’s calamity.

Recent pledges from the United States and the European Union will, from 2006, raise an extra $12 billion each year for education, health and anti-poverty programmes. This is an historic advance – a reversal of the 20 year decline in aid levels. For its part, the UK will increase its aid budget to nearly £4.9 billion by 2006 – a near doubling in real terms.

At the same time, we must also do more to make better use of existing resources. Reordering priorities, untying aid and pooling funds internationally could all release additional funds for the poorest countries. The UK government will increase the poverty focus of our own aid in order to raise the proportion spent in low-income countries from seventy-eight per cent currently to ninety per cent by 2006. And we will also work to improve the effectiveness of European Union aid – the European Commission spent only 38 per cent of its official development assistance in low-income countries in 2000.

But even with greater aid effectiveness and the aid already pledged, it will not be enough. The report of the high level panel on financing for development, chaired by former President of Mexico Ernesto Zedillo, estimates that if we are to achieve the Millennium Development Goals at least an extra $50 billion more in aid will be required every year. So as a matter of urgency we must look at ways by which the benefits of existing and future aid pledges can be maximised.

Poor countries need not just one-off emergency allocations that depend on the whims of donors but long-term commitments to sustain lasting change. The UK Government is therefore proposing a new International Finance Facility. On the basis of long-term, binding donor commitments from the richest countries, some of which have already been made, the Facility would leverage in additional money from the international capital markets to raise the amount of development aid for the years to 2015 from $50 billion a year to $100 billion per year – a level of aid still well below the absorption capacity of the poorest countries.

Tomorrow the Treasury and Department for International Development will be setting out our proposal in more detail – and we’d welcome your views on it.

The Finance Facility we propose is designed specifically to help meet the internationally agreed Millennium Development Goals — an essential condition to allow the poorest countries to attract private investment and participate in the global economy.

The Facility would provide a temporary framework seeking to raise additional funds for development in the years leading up to 2015. While the Facility would be in existence for around fifteen years, the repayment period would be around thirty years. In this way, we are seeking to bridge the development financing gap between the resources that have already been pledged and the additional funds that are now recognised as urgently necessary to meet the Millennium Development Goals, create the conditions of self-sufficient growth and development, and move us closer towards the agreed target that developed countries should contribute 0.7 per cent of their Gross National Product in aid.

Of course, we will have to convince a sceptical world that money for development will not be wasted so the Facility would need to ensure not only additional money but value for money.

In the past, some economists and critics have argued the case that aid is bad for development. And it is unquestionably true that there have been cases where aid has been badly used, on occasion supporting corrupt regimes or wasted on misconceived, short-term projects.

But we also know that countries with fair and transparent policies have a greater ability to use funds effectively and to absorb additional aid.

So each country drawing on the fund will have to show that money will achieve the results intended.

The Facility would thus be an integral part of a new agreement between developed and developing countries, with each country:

First, pursuing anti-corruption, pro-stability policies and agreeing the necessary transparency in economic and corporate policies to achieve this;

Second, a sequenced opening up of markets to global trade;

Third, agreeing a sequenced opening up of markets to investment;

Fourth, as part of the country-owned poverty reduction strategies, agreeing clear and costed plans for building education, health and economic capacity — seeing development aid not as compensation for past failures but as investment for future success.

Under our proposal the developed world would make a commitment to providing long-term, predictable, untied and effective aid as investment to the countries that need it most.

And, in return, developing countries would demonstrate a commitment to poverty reduction strategies, addressing political and economic stability and creating an enabling environment for human, physical and social investment.

So in future no country genuinely committed to economic development, poverty reduction and to the transparency and standards I talked about earlier should be denied the chance to make progress because of a lack of investment.

So the Finance Facility concept offers a number of advantages:

It is focused on the financing necessary to help achieve the internationally agreed Millennium Development Goals

It is founded on developed countries’ long-term commitments to those countries that are striving towards achieving the goals;

It bridges the gap by leveraging these long-term commitments, enabling us to move more quickly to the target that each donor country contributes 0.7 per cent of GDP in development aid;

It can deploy a critical mass of aid as investment over the next few years when it will have the most impact on achieving the targets;

Its structure encourages donor pooling and co-ordination. By bringing together donor flows and diversifying risk it is able to secure value for money;

And by crystallising long term commitments from donors it can provide a predictable and stable flow of aid over the medium term to countries that remain committed to achieving the goals

For its part the UK stands ready to provide the long-term commitment that is necessary, but we cannot make progress alone.

We seek to build support within the entire international community for our proposal and I believe that this is an area where Britain can again show leadership. Acting together with clear purpose and urgent resolve, the world can by 2015 meet the Millennium Development Goals and tackle the evil of global poverty.

But we simply cannot achieve these goals without the enthusiastic support of business.

The International Finance Facility will provide developing countries with the means to invest in schools and healthcare, roads and legal systems – which in turn will help create the environment businesses need to start-up, invest and grow, as well as create the conditions that will enable countries to participate in, and benefit from, global trade. And as families in those countries are lifted out of poverty, new and dynamic markets will be created. But in return for these investment and trading opportunities, businesses – as most enlightened businesses understand – should fully recognise their responsibility to promote stability, transparency and growth can become full partners in development.


The challenge we face is immense.

But our vision of the way forward – and one that is recognised in the principle of intent that many participants here, including myself, will be signing up to today – is that in an increasingly interdependent world, all can benefit if each meets agreed obligations for change.

And I know that business will wish to accept its responsibilities as others – developed and developing governments, the International Institutions and civil society – accept their responsibilities.

First, the obligations on developing countries: to end corruption and meet international standards in public financial management and accountability, put in place stable economic policies and invite investment, meet their commitment to community ownership of their poverty reduction strategies and ensure resources go to fighting poverty including education and health.

Second, the obligations on the richest governments to the poorest of the world: our commitment to tackling the inequalities through a substantial and decisive transfer of resources – not aid that entrenches dependency but investment that empowers development – investment money that is, in the truest sense of the world, increasing the capacity of the poorest countries.

Third, the obligations on the world community as a whole – International Institutions: to reform systems to ensure greater transparency and openness, to open up trade and the opportunities for faster development, and to focus on priorities that meet the Millennium Development Goals.

Fourth, the obligations on Non-Government Organisations and faith groups: to ensure that developed and developing countries, business and international organisations are held accountable for progress towards the Millennium Development Goals and to coordinate their efforts in giving voice to the voiceless and empowering the powerless.

And finally, the obligations on business: to engage with the development challenge and not to walk away – investing in developing countries, participating in a dialogue and playing their part in preventing and resolving economic crises.

So today I have suggested that a new partnership between NGOs and business and governments is essential, feasible and urgent.

Essential because we recognise that if the world is to do well in the next decades the developing countries must be at the heart of progress.

Feasible because while there is much that divides people with views on globalisation there is a great deal more today that unites us on the means by which the development process can advance.

And urgent because we know that for the 115 million children not going to school today, for the thirty thousand mothers facing the death today of their infant child, and for the two billion people living on less than $2 a day for all their necessities, development can mean the difference between life and death.

And of course this new development programme is essential, feasible and urgent for one further set of reasons.

Since the tragic events of September 11th we have recognised a profound and pervasive truth: that what happens to the poorest citizen in the poorest country can directly affect the richest citizen in the richest country and as individuals and nations we are dependent upon each other for our security and prosperity.

As Martin Luther King put it: “we are each strands in an inescapable network of mutuality, together woven into a single garment of destiny”, not here as self-interested individuals sufficient unto ourselves, with no obligations to each other, but all part of a community bound together as citizens with shared needs, mutual responsibilities and linked destinies – not only across our nation but also across our world, our fates and interests bound together.

Governments, companies, NGOs, faith groups — all of us know the importance of that interdependence.

Dr James Stockinger explained our mutual dependence most memorably when he wrote:

“It is the hands of others that grow the food we eat, sew the clothes we wear, build the homes we inhabit. It is the hands of others who tend us when we are sick and lift us up when we fall. It is the hands of others who bring us into this world and lower us into the grave.”

So I believe that the answer is not to retreat from globalisation or global cooperation. Instead we must step up our efforts to work together to advance social justice on a global scale, to the benefit of all.

And we must do this with more international cooperation not less — founded on the belief that not only do we have obligations to each other beyond our front doors and garden gates, responsibilities beyond the city wall and duties beyond our national borders but that, working together – governments, business, NGOs, faith groups – this generation, with its energy, technology and global reach, does indeed have it in its power – if it so chooses – to finally free the world from poverty, disease, illiteracy and want.

Gordon Brown – 2003 Speech to the Social Market Foundation


Below is the text of the speech made by Gordon Brown, the then Chancellor of the Exchequer, to the Social Market Foundation at the Cass Business School in London on 3 February 2003.

Since 1997, our Government’s central objective, the heart of our vision for a prosperous Britain, has been to promote opportunity and security for all.

Our first priority was to address our country’s chronic long term failures in macroeconomic policy.

And in Government we had the strength to take difficult decisions, including to freeze public spending for two years as we constructed a new monetary and fiscal regime.

But a sound macroeconomic framework is a necessary but not sufficient condition to achieve, in what is an increasingly competitive global economy, a Britain where there is opportunity and security not just for some but for all.

So successive budgets have sought to promote, on the one hand, competition, innovation, and the enterprise economy, and on the other hand, the New Deal, tax credits and public service reform as the routes to an efficient and fair Britain in which individuals can realise their potential.

Achieving these objectives demands the courage to push forward with all the radical long term reforms necessary to enhance productivity and to improve public services, and, as we do so, we must have the strength to face up to fundamental questions that cannot be sidestepped about the role and limits of government and markets — questions, in fact, about the respective responsibilities of individuals, for markets and communities including the role of the state.

Indeed, in almost every area of current controversy – the future of the Private Finance Initiative, of health care, of universities, of industrial policy, of the European economic reform agenda, of public services generally – the question is, at root, what is the best relationship between individuals, markets and government to advance the public interest and whether it is possible to set aside, and indeed move beyond, the old sterile and debilitating conflicts of the past.

Take the health service. The essential question in a world of advancing technology, expensive drugs and treatments, and rising expectations is whether efficiency, equity and responsiveness to the patient are best delivered through a public health care system or whether, as with commodities generally, market arrangements, such as the hospital selling and the patient buying, are the best route to advancing the public interest.

Take higher education. Our universities operate in an increasingly global market place and at the same time their excellence depends upon drawing upon the widest pool of talent – making change inevitable and necessary. And one of the central questions round the world is the extent to which universities should become, in effect, the seller, setting their own price for their service, and the prospective graduate the buyer of higher education at the going rate, whether through an up front or deferred system of payment, and what are the consequences for equity and efficiency as well as choice of such arrangements.

Take the Private Finance Initiative. The argument is whether, at a time of unprecedented need for investment in our public infrastructure, for example in hospitals and schools, the private sector can provide the benefits of efficiency and value for money to promote what most agree is the public interest: schooling and health care free for all at the point of need.

Take industrial policy. The essential question is whether, when global competition is challenging every industry, the state should replace market forces where they fail – the old policy; whether the state should refuse to intervene at all even in the face of market failure – the old laissez faire; whether we should second guess the market through a corporatist policy of supporting national champions – a policy I also reject; or whether, as I would propose, the best industrial policy for success in a global economy is to help markets work better.

Or take European economic reform. The question is how far, in a world where business must respond quickly and people must adapt to change, Europe is willing to go beyond old assumptions that flexibility is the enemy of social justice and recognise that the right kind of flexibility in European labour, capital and product markets can advance not only economic efficiency but also social cohesion.

In each area the questions are, at root, whether the public interest – that is opportunity and security for all – and the equity, efficiency and diversity necessary to achieve it, is best advanced by more or less reliance on markets or through substituting a degree of public control or ownership for the market and whether, even when there is public sector provision, there can be contestability.

Every modern generation – since Adam Smith counterposed the invisible hand of the market to the helping hand of government – has had to resolve this question for its time: what are the respective spheres for individuals, markets and communities, including the state, in achieving opportunity and security for their citizens.

In the United States in the 1930s the New Deal – and in Britain in the 1940s, in a different way, nationalisation and the welfare state – established new paradigms. Whole areas traditionally left to markets became regulated or owned by the state in the avowed interests of efficiency and equity.

In the 1960s and 1970s the story could be summed up the story of the breakdown of that relationship as – in the way Anthony Crosland predicted – old forms of collectivism were seen to fail. And, when we refused to update our conception of the respective roles of markets and state, and take on vested interests, the government also failed.

In the 1980s there was an attempt — some of it largely successful, as in utilities, and some of it unsuccessful, as in health — to withdraw the state from areas where previously the public interest was seen to be equated with public ownership. But by 1997 major questions about the relationships between individuals, markets and communities, including the role of the state, remained unanswered. On the other hand, it is also true that in every single post war decade — on both sides of the political spectrum — the centralised state was wrongly seen to be the main, and sometimes the sole, expression of community, often usurping the case for localities and neighbourhoods taking more responsibility for the decisions that affect their lives.

The question I want to focus specifically on today is how, for a new decade in which globalisation and technology are challenging traditional assumptions anyway, we renegotiate the relationship between markets and government.

Agreeing on where markets have an enhanced role and where market failure has to be addressed is, in my view, absolutely central to the next stage of our project. To hold to old discredited dogmas about what should remain in the public sector and how the public sector operates, or to confuse the public interest with producer interests, makes no sense, and, as technologies and aspirations change, would lead to sclerosis and make it impossible to obtain our enduring goals. We must not adhere to failed means lest we fail to achieve enduring ends.

Equally, to fail to put the case for a reformed public sector where the case is strong not only leads directly to the allegation from our opponents that we merely imitate them but also make it impossible to achieve the efficient and equitable outcomes we seek.

As long as it can be alleged that there is no clarity as to where the market requires an enhanced role, where we should enable markets to work better by tackling market failure, and where markets have no role at all, an uncertain trumpet sounds and we risk giving the impression that the only kind of reform that is valuable is a form of privatisation and we fail to advance — as we should – the case for a renewed and reformed public realm for the coming decades

By, however, stating our vision clearly, we can bring to an end the sterile and self defeating argument over PFI where producer interests have often been wrongly presented as the public interest; move forward from what has been a debate insufficiently explicit on the role of public and private providers in some of our public services; and, most of all, open up a broad and challenging agenda for prosperity and social reform.

In the last Parliament we overturned old shibboleths, rejected an old style Keynesian assumption that there was a trade off between inflation and growth, and, in making the Bank of England independent and applying fresh rules, procedures and systems of accountability in a new monetary and fiscal regime, sought to make us the representatives of stability and economic competence.

Now we need now to affirm a yet more radical break with our past – and in this Parliament go further. By drawing the proper distinction between those areas where markets require an enhanced role; where, by tackling market failure, we can enable markets to work better; and where markets cannot deliver opportunity and security for all, we can, with confidence, make us identified with not just of social justice but with markets, competition and enterprise and show that advancing enterprise and fairness together best equips our country to succeed in the global economy.

I have said that the respective role of markets and the public sector has been the underlying, even if sometimes the unspoken, divide at the heart of British political arguments for nearly a century.

But let us be clear at the outset where there is at least consensus.

Left and right have always agreed that there is a sphere of relationships – which encompasses family, faith and civic society — that should never be reduced to transactions, either buying and selling, or to dictat, state command and control.

In his recent Dimbleby lecture on the market state the new Archbishop of Canterbury, and in his recent book “The Dignity of Difference” the Chief Rabbi, Dr Jonathan Sacks – profound and influential thinkers who have led the debate – tell us that while there are areas where the market is legitimate, there are areas where to impose market transactions in human relationships is to go beyond the bounds of what is acceptable, indeed where to do so corrodes the very virtues which markets rely upon for success.

Markets, they would suggest, may be the best way of constructing exchanges, and thus providing many goods and services, but are not good ways of structuring human relationships. They also argue that while, generally, markets are good at creating wealth they are less good at guaranteeing fairness and opportunity for all – and certainly not normally good at dealing with their social consequences. And they conclude that many of the choices we make cannot be made through markets alone and to have faith in markets cannot justify us sidestepping fundamental moral questions. Quite simply it is an unacceptable market fundamentalism that leaves markets to take care of all their consequences.

The political philosopher Walzer talks of blocked exchanges —- some things that are not and should not be for sale and are off limits. In the same way, the economist Okun has said that the market needs a place and the market needs to be kept in place. Everyone but an economist, he says, knows without asking why money shouldn’t buy some things.

But that agreement between left and right extends beyond a proper distinction between the sphere of relationships and that of transactions and a recognition of what Michael Sandel calls “the moral limits of markets”. Both left and right generally agree also that markets are best seen as a means and not ends. Of course some on the right have argued that because market exchanges are freely entered into markets define freedom; and the left have often slipped into arguing that because markets cannot cope with their social consequences, they are a threat to equality, liberty and the realisation of human potential; but both left and right say that for them markets or the public sector are means not ends.

There should indeed be a legitimate debate between left and right about values and the stress we place on opportunity and equity, while safeguarding the importance of liberty. But the debate between left and right need not be any longer a debate about whether there should be a market- based economy or not.

But beyond this consensus, it is the respective role of markets and the public sector that has been the greatest dividing line between left and right.

For the left historically it has been a matter of dogma that to define the public interest – opportunity and security for all – as diminishing the sphere of markets; and for the right it has been historically a matter of ideology to expand the role of markets.

Why? Because for the left markets are too often seen as leading to inequality, insecurity and injustice. In this view, enterprise is the enemy of fairness, and the interests of social justice are fundamentally opposed to the interests of a competitive economy. The left’s remedy has therefore been seen to lie in relegating the impact and scope of the market – through greater public ownership, regulation and state intervention. Indeed for nearly a century the left in Britain wrongly equated the public interest with public ownership and at times came near to redefining one means – public ownership – as a sole end in itself.

For the right, on the other hand, it is the absence rather than the prevalence of markets that is to blame. This benign, neo-liberal view of markets sees them as sufficient to produce a combination of liberty, equality, efficiency and prosperity. And so as Professor Michael Barber records of a conversation with a Treasury official during the 1980s “It doesn’t really matter what the issue is”, the civil servant said, “we know that the question we have to ask is ‘how do we create a market’ ” – the prescription on every occasion: deregulation, marketisation and the withdrawal of the state.

So for the left opportunity and security for all is prejudiced by reliance on markets. For the right opportunity and security for those who deserve it is only possible by greater reliance on markets. These views – too much market on the one hand, too little market on the other – have defined the terrain of political debate in Britain and elsewhere in the post war period.

Yet for all their differences both views reflect the same doctrinaire approach to the question of the role of markets. Whether markets are seen as the cause or the solution to inequality of opportunity and insecurity, they have been seen by the left and right as universally so — the vices and virtues of markets applying everywhere or nowhere. The result is that neither left nor right has been able to contribute to a considered view, and therefore a viable policy agenda, for where markets can serve the public interest and where they cannot.

So we start from a failure on the part of the left: that the left has too often failed to admit not just that, in order to promote productivity, we need markets but also that we should normally tackle market failure not by abolishing markets but by strengthening markets and enabling them to work better.

But we also start from a failure of the right: the right’s failure to understand that there are some areas where markets are not appropriate and where market failure can only be dealt with through public action.

So the argument that is often put as public versus private, or markets versus state, does not reflect the complexity of the challenges we face: that markets are part of advancing the public interest and the left are wrong to say they are not; but also that markets are not always in the public interest and the right is wrong to automatically equate the imposition of markets with the public interest.

The challenge for us now, while remaining true to our values and goals, to have the courage to affirm that markets are a means of advancing the public interest; to strengthen markets where they work and to tackle market failures to enable markets to work better. And instead of the left’s old, often knee-jerk, anti market sentiment, to assert with confidence that promoting the market economy helps us achieve our goals of a stronger economy and a fairer society.

So in this speech I want to achieve three purposes.

First, to show how a progressive government seeking a strong economy and fair society should not only support but positively enhance markets in the public interest.

Second, applying that same public interest test, to recognise that there are limits to markets — not only where, as a matter of morality, we have always accepted they have no place, but also in those areas as a matter of practicality where they do not and cannot be made to work, and hence where we should support public provision as the more equitable, efficient and responsive solution.

Third, to set out how we can avoid the trap of simply replacing market failure with state failure and, applying the same public interest test, achieve equity, efficiency and diversity by reforming and modernising the public realm for the decades ahead, in particular through devolution, transparency and accountability.

First, advancing markets where they are in the public interest.

In 1994, after Tony Blair led the abolition of Clause Four, our first decision which I announced two days after was to revamp our competition policy. We did so because we recognised that competition – not the absence of it – was essential not just to an efficient economy but also to a fair society. Indeed in a break from a hundred years of our history I said that the public interest required a pro-competition policy that would deliver efficiency, choice and lower consumer prices. Some asked us why we were extending markets when all around us we see the failures of the market economy. I argued that where there was insufficient competition our aim should be to enable markets to work better.

I said then too that we needed not just a new pro-competition policy but also a new industrial policy whose aim was not to second guess, relegate or replace markets but enable markets to work better. People asked me why I proposed this when it was clear that in Britain short-termism and low investment were glaring examples of chronic market failure. My opponents argued that the last thing we should do was to extend markets. The best industrial policy they said was the old one: as markets fail to replace markets with state action – national investment banks, national enterprise boards; import controls to protect big companies; even nationalisation of financial institutions.

But I said that markets here failed because special interests were undermining their dynamism. Here again the new industrial policy should be to enable markets to work better and successfully extend them and harness the initiative, creativity, and innovation and the coordination which can come from the decentralisation and dynamism of properly functioning markets —- that is, where there is:

first – if not perfect information – fair and accurate information possessed by the consumer;

second there is – if not perfect competition – fair competition between many suppliers with low barriers to entry and producers are not monopolists with the power to dictate prices;

and, third, with mobility, capital and labour, like consumers, free to go elsewhere.

And it is ever more important that markets are strengthened. While twenty years ago, even ten years ago, it was just about possible – if costly and wrong – to protect and insulate companies, sectors or whole economies from global competition, there is now no longer any safe haven from the inefficiency and uncompetitiveness of the past. With hardly a good or service not subject to intense global competition it is not only unwise but impossible to shelter our goods and services markets by subsidies or by other forms of protectionism without long term damage. Indeed, competitiveness abroad is best served by competition at home so in the modern global economy stronger markets become more and more necessary.

So our new approach leads to fundamental changes in direction from the old policy approach.

Instead of being suspicious of competition, we should embrace it, recognising that without it vested interests accumulate, and, instead of tolerating monopoly or cartels which were never in the public interest, or appeasing special interests, we should systematically extend competition – forcing producers to be efficient, extending the choices available to consumers and opening up opportunity for the ambitious and the risk-takers.

Instead of being lukewarm about free trade, free trade not protectionism is essential to opportunity and security for all and instead of the old protectionism we advocate open markets.

Instead of being suspicious of enterprise and entrepreneurs, we should celebrate an entrepreneurial culture – encouraging, incentivising and rewarding the dynamic and enthusing more people from all backgrounds and all areas to start up businesses – here again enabling markets to work better and strengthening the private economy.

Instead of thinking the state must take over responsibility where markets deliver insufficient investment and short termism in innovation, skills and environmental protection, we must enable markets to work better and for the long term – here again the case for state intervention is not to extend the role of the state but wherever possible to tackle market failure and help make markets work better.

Instead of the old centralisation that characterised industrial policy – promoting ‘national champions’ or ‘picking winners’ or offering subsidies to loss-makers – our industrial policy should reject special privileges for anyone — embracing a level playing field for all — and should aim to deliver higher growth and jobs in every region with a new decentralising regional policy that addresses market failures in skills and innovation closer to home at the local level.

Instead of extending regulation unnecessarily to restrict the scope of markets, we should systematically pinpoint services where regulation does not serve the public interest and can be reduced.

Instead of thinking of employment policy as maintaining people in old jobs even when technological and other change is inevitable, it is by combining flexibility – helping people move from one job to another – with active intervention to provide skills, information and income support that is the best route to full employment.

And instead of viewing flexibility as the enemy of social cohesion, we should recognise that the right kind of flexibility in European labour, capital and product markets is becoming even more essential for competitiveness and that while government does have a role to play in easing the transition for those affected by change, it should not involve itself in resisting change.

So what are the next steps in the economic reform agenda that will shape our budget decisions this spring and help us towards higher productivity and thus towards a Britain of opportunity and security for all?

First, in testing times for every national economy it is ever more important to pursue policies for monetary and fiscal stability. The recent volatility in global stock markets – with US markets (S&P500) now down 44 per cent since their peak, UK markets (FTSE-100) down 49 per cent, France (CAC-40) down 58 per cent and Germany (DAX) down 66 per cent – has demonstrated once again that no country can insulate itself from the ups and downs of the world economy.

I understand the concerns that uncertainty causes for investors and consumers alike. Indeed it is because we have always understood that monetary and fiscal regimes must work well in challenging times as well as good times that — with tough decisions in 1997 on deficit and debt reduction including a two year freeze on spending in the late 1990s – we sought to ensure that Britain is better placed than we have been in the past to deal with economic challenges and ongoing risks.

And at all times we will have the strength to take the tough decisions

Instead of being, as in previous downturns, first in to recession and last out, the country that normally suffers most, Britain has continued to grow in every quarter over the past six years while other major economies have been in recession.

The true test of economic policy is whether it can cope with difficult as well as good times and I am confident that tested in adversity our system will demonstrate its credibility and resilience. With our fundamentals sound, and debt low we have met our fiscal rules, are meeting our fiscal rules and will continue to meet our fiscal rules.

And with interest rates, inflation and unemployment at record lows, this is indeed the right time, building on that underlying stability, to push ahead with competition, enterprise and productivity reforms in our economy so that in an increasingly competitive and uncertain world we can secure higher levels of long term growth.

So, secondly, in every product and almost every service we must do more to open up competition. Having already in the past six years gone a long way:

– independence for the competition authorities;

– as Dr Irwin Stelzer proposed, trust busting incentives and criminal penalties for those engaging in cartels;

– giving the Office of Fair Trading a proactive role in investigating markets;

– dealing with a range of professions where regulation has been an excuse for vested interests and exclusions from entry;

– and, in the EU, demanding improvements to the functioning of the single market…we have a long way still to go.

The Independent Office of Fair Trading is currently investigating the markets in liability insurance, private dentistry, estate agents, taxis, and doorstep selling. It has reported on many industries, including most recently the market for prescription drugs, recommending reforms that expose them to the bracing winds of competition. We look forward to tough pro competition decisions and for them to continue to scrutinise areas where we expect them to do more.

But the competition test should apply to the public sector as well as the private sector. And I hope that the oft powers will use to the full their new powers to investigate all those areas where not just the private sector but the public sector through regulation or its actions unjustifiably restricts competition.

This month we will publish our progress report on European economic reform with detailed proposals, based on the pro market principles I have set down, for further labour, product and capital market deregulation, for a new approach to state aids, for support for Private Finance Initiatives in Europe, for action to prevent British firms from being excluded from European markets from energy and telecommunications to agriculture, and for extending the principles of a strong, proactive and independent competition regime to the EU.

And we will progressively seek to tackle barriers to a fully open trading and commercial relationship between Europe and America – strengthening joint arrangements to tackle competition issues.

Third, we must take far more seriously the need for urgent progress in the post Doha trade discussions. And in the case of Europe, sooner or later Europe’s leaders must come together to tackle, at root, agricultural protectionism which imposes enormous costs on taxpayers, consumers and the world’s poorest people.

Fourth, around one third of our country’s productivity gains come from new entrants challenging and then replacing existing companies so the budget will continue our work of removing barriers to business success — the government on the side of small business:

– helping to cut the cost of starting, investing, hiring and training;

– continuing our reforms of the business tax regime for enterprise and entrepreneurs and capital gains;

– opening up public procurement to small firms;

– and moving forward with measures to encourage the entrepreneurial culture.

Fifth, where markets by themselves cannot deliver the long term returns from investing in skills and new technologies, and cannot safeguard the environment for the long term, it is right to act.

So where firms, large or small, cannot themselves make the large investments needed in basic research, it is right for government to attempt to safeguard their intellectual property rights more fully and to share the costs.

And it is right to build on the new employer skills pilots and to forge a new partnership between Government, employee and employer with a view to making labour markets work more flexibly.

Where there are barriers to the unemployed getting back to work, it is right to extend both the opportunities and the compulsion of the New Deal ensuring labour markets are more flexible as we tackle the social and economic causes of unemployment.

Where capital markets are short termist and fail the long term we should press ahead with the Cruickshank, Myners and Sandler reforms and be prepared to build on our capital gains tax reforms (short term rates at 40p to long term rates at 10p) to encourage the long term view.

And our approach to the environment must not only be to prevent environmental damage but to offer incentives to invest in environment-friendly technologies.

Sixth, this emphasis on market solutions to market failures – and rejection of old style centrally imposed industrial policies – demands a new regionally based policy focusing on local enterprise, skills and innovation. And our new regional policy consultation document urging greater devolution of powers from the European Commission will be published shortly. We are removing the last of the permanent, on-going subsidies for operating costs in coal, shipbuilding and steel and as the DTI Secretary of State, Patricia Hewitt, is showing: the old days of the ‘sponsorship’ department are over, freeing up resources to enhance the DTI’s role in promoting competition and enabling markets to work better.

The measures for competition, trade, enterprise, science and skills, and regions take us along the road towards a Britain of opportunity and security for all. They mean a more efficient economy that delivers more opportunity. But the extent to which we go further and ensure opportunity and security for all depends upon a further set of political choices.

Let me give a few examples.

For those that do not care about opportunity for all, need be at best agnostic on those excluded from it. But for those for whom equity matters a central element of a pro competition policy is to remove all the old barriers that prevent new entrants and integral to a skills and education policy is drawing on the talents of not just some but the widest range of people and their potential. In both cases the most equitable solution is also likely to be the most efficient.

Those unconcerned about equity would be agnostic about the need for regional policy or be against it. I have suggested that an effective regional policy is economically efficient but those who are most concerned about divisions between regions and the inequalities that result will wish to demonstrate that balanced economic growth is not only in the interests of the least prosperous regions but in the interests of regions where prosperity can bring congestion, overcrowding and overheating.

Too often, in Britain, unlike America, opportunities to start a business have seemed accessible mainly to a closed circle of the privileged so those of us who believe in opportunity for all will wish to go furthest in promoting enterprise for all. In the poorest areas in Britain where only one business is created for every six in the wealthier areas, and where not only family savings but also bank capital at the right price is often unavailable even where men and women show initiative and dynamism, our whole approach must radically change. Enabling markets to work better for the enterprising demands that we remove the old barriers to enterprise that discriminate against lower income groups and hard-hit unemployment blackspots where the enterprise culture is already weakest and open up wider access to capital, management expertise, telecommunications and financial advice: active intervention to widen economic opportunities irrespective of background.

So in tackling these market failures – especially failures in the availability of information and the mobility of capital – a new agenda opens up that helps markets work better and delivers opportunity for all. It is our answer to those who allege that we can only pursue equity at the cost of efficiency, a demonstration that equity and efficiency need not be enemies but can be allies in the attainment of opportunity and security for all. Here social justice – equality of opportunity and fairness of outcomes – not bought at the cost of a successful economy but as part of achieving such a success —– a point I made when I gave the Smith Lecture six years ago, an agenda that must continue to be at the centre of our thinking and policy making.

I have sought to show that markets can sometimes fail. We also know that public services can fail too. The experience of telephones, gas, electricity and water was of public sector monopolies created to guarantee supply of service but which had become, over time, not an empowerment for the consumer but a restriction of their choices.

We had to come to terms with and accept the privatisation of telecoms. We saw that with the right framework – regulation only where necessary and light touch wherever possible – we could create the conditions in which markets could work in the public interest and deliver choice, efficiency and a fair deal for consumers.

Too often the alternative approach was pro privatisation but not pro competition – to privatise without liberalising or regulating in conditions where private vested interests replaced public vested interests and denied the consumer choice, thus undermining the public interest.

Our insight was to see that the alternative solution was a private sector solution at the expense of markets and, in the end, of the public interest.

In this and other areas we knew that if we could ensure competition, proper flows of information and mobility of labour and capital – and thus help markets work better – then the consumer would gain from the efficiencies that would result and the extension of choice achieved, and that, over time, the regulation necessary to ensure security of supply for all could be diminished.

But interestingly the alternative solution was to equate support for private sector and private business with support for markets. A pro private sector policy was adopted which replaced public sector monopolies with private sector monopolies and failed to develop a pro market policy where there was genuine competition, the possibility of new entrants and proper flow of information to, and choice for, consumers.

Indeed when privatisation took place there was often a failure to put in place the conditions for effective markets. Instead utilities were privatised rather than liberalised and the old monopolies returned this time but in the private sector.

Our view has been that utility reform must promote a market economy (and not just a privatised economy) and that we liberalise where possible and regulate where necessary so that the needs of the consumer are best advanced.

So while some still say we should be anti market and re-nationalise, in these areas our values can best be advanced through markets working in the public interest. So this is our approach to utilities:

– we are opening up to greater competition utilities like water and postal services; as markets fully develop we will withdraw unnecessary regulation while never putting at risk opportunity and security for all; we will ensure that the new consumer watchdogs now in place – for example Postwatch, Energywatch and Water Voice – represent and empower consumers effectively; and that regulators make regulatory impact assessments – including effects on competition – standard practice for all significant new proposals;
and we will press in Europe for the same liberalisation for energy and utility services: at all times our approach shaped by our view that the public interest can best be guaranteed with market means of delivery through the price mechanism.

And we cannot either hold to old ideas about what should be in public sector when there is no justification for it. This demands we look at services to consumers where traditionally the public sector has been used and where markets are seen to have failed —– but where, in future, markets, with their dynamism, capacity for innovation and enhancement of choice, can better respond to new technology and rising aspirations.

Already we have proposed a Shareholder Executive bringing together all government shareholdings. And we have insisted on all Government assets being publicly accounted for. And where there is no justification for them being in the public sector — indeed where the answer to market failure has wrongly been seen to be public ownership – we must be honest with ourselves – as with a range of industries and services already from the Government’s shares in privatised companies and from Qinetiq to the Tote – about the changes necessary when the public interest is best advanced not by government ownership but by markets

Enhancing markets will mean reducing government. But – as I suggested in a series of articles and speeches last autumn and as the Chief Economic Adviser to the Treasury also argued in his New Localism pamphlet last year – we must also have the courage to recognise where markets do not work.

Our clear and robust defence of markets must be combined with a clear and robust recognition of their limits.

Let me explain.

For most consumer goods, markets adjust to preferences and thus demand and to supply on a continuous basis.

But what about situations where this not only does not happen but the market failures cannot be corrected through market-based government intervention to make the price mechanism work ?

What of situations where there are clear externalities and clear social costs that cannot, even with the use of economic instruments, be fully captured by the price mechanism ?

What of situations also where there are multiple distortions in the price and supply disciplines and where even the removal of one distortion to create a purer market may turn a second best outcome into a third best outcome ?

Take health care — the successful delivery of which has proved to be a mammoth challenge in every modern industrial country.

The economics of healthcare are complicated and difficult. No sensible person pretends to have all of the answers to all of the complex, inter-related and excruciatingly difficult policy problems that rapidly rising demand, expectations and costs create. The only thing that is certain is that, as technologies change and needs change too, changes will follow in health care delivery, now and for the foreseeable future. But those of us in positions of responsibility cannot afford the luxury of inaction: we have to come up with the best system we can devise and be prepared to adapt it in the light of changing technology and the rapidly changing needs of our citizens.

The modern model for the British NHS – as set down by the government and the Secretary of State for Health Alan Milburn – embodies not just clear national clinical and access standards but clear accountability, local delivery of services, independent inspection, patient choice, and contestability to drive efficiency and reward innovation.

The free market position which would lead us to privatised hospitals and some system of vouchers and extra payments for treatments – starts by viewing health care as akin to a commodity to be bought and sold like any other through the price mechanism.

But in healthcare we know that the consumer is not sovereign: use of healthcare is unpredictable and can never by planned by the consumer in the way that, for example, weekly food consumption can.

So we know:

that the ordinary market simply cannot function and because nobody can be sure whether they need medicinal treatment and if so when and what, individuals, families and entire societies will seek to insure themselves against the eventuality of being ill;
that in every society, this uncertainty leads to the pooling of risks;
and that the question is – on efficiency grounds – what is the best insurance system for sharing these risks?

A year ago when the Government examined the funding of health care we concluded that, with uncertainty about risk, insurers often have poor information on which to base their risk assessment of the customer; that as a result of these uncertainties – and, with many citizens considered too high a risk, too expensive and therefore excluded – there are serious inefficiencies in private pricing and purchasing.

Indeed in the United States, some insurance policies are now thought to have a 40 per cent loading simply to cover the administrative costs involved in risk profiling and billing, and today premiums average around $100 a week, are rising by 13 per cent a year, and even then often exclude high cost treatments. 41 million Americans are uninsured.

And in my Social Market Foundation lecture a year ago I argued that on efficiency and equity grounds private insurance policies that by definition rely for their viability on ifs, buts and small print and can cover only some of the people some of the time should not be preferred against policies that can cover all of the people all of the time.

But I also argued on efficiency as well as equity grounds that the case for such a comprehensive national insurance policy was greater now than in 1948 when the scientific and technological limitations of medicine were such that high cost interventions were rare or very rare – there was no chemotherapy for cancer, cardiac surgery was in its infancy, intensive care barely existed, hip and knee replacement was almost unknown. Now – and thus health care, compared with now, relatively inexpensive.

I argued that today the standard of technology and treatment is such that unlike 1948 some illnesses or injuries could cost £20,000, £50,000 or even £100,000 to treat and cure and I suggested that because the costs of treatment and of drugs are now much higher than ever, and the risks to family finances much greater than ever — not just for poorer families but for comfortably off families up the income scale – that therefore the need for comprehensive insurance cover of health care is much stronger than ever.

But the very same reasoning which leads us to the case for the public funding of health care on efficiency as well as equity grounds also leads us to the case for public provision of healthcare.

Let me explain

The market for health care is dominated by the combination of, on the one hand, chronically imperfect and asymmetric information, and the potentially catastrophic and irreversible outcome of healthcare decisions based on that information and, on the other, the necessity of local clusters of medical and surgical specialisms.

This means that while in a conventional well-functioning market the price set by the producer is the most efficient, in health not only is the consumer not sovereign but a free market in health care will not produce the most efficient price for its services or a fair deal for its consumer.

Take the asymmetry of information between the consumer as patient – who may, for example, be unknowingly ill, poorly informed of available treatments, reliant on others to understand the diagnosis, uncertain about the effectiveness of different medical interventions and thus is not sovereign – and the producer.

With the consumer unable – as in a conventional market – to seek out the best product at the lowest price, and information gaps that cannot —- even over the long term — be satisfactorily bridged, the results of a market failure for the patient can be long-term, catastrophic and irreversible. So even if there are risks of state failure, there is a clear market failure.

But market failures do not only exist because of asymmetry of information and the irreversibility of decisions but because local emergency hospitals are — in large part — clusters of essential medical and surgical specialities and have characteristics that make them akin to natural local monopolies:

50 per cent of admissions, 75 per cent of hospital beds taken up by emergency urgent or maternity cases – non-elective cases where patients are generally unable to shop around;

– the need for guaranteed security of supply which means that, generally, a local hospital could not be allowed to go out of business;

– the need also for clusters of mutually reinforcing specialities (trauma, pathology and emergency medicine for example);

– a high volume of work to guarantee quality of service;

– the economies of scale and scope making it difficult to tackle these market failures by market solutions;

– and – as the US system has also demonstrated – it is also difficult for private sector contracts to anticipate and specify the range of essential characteristics we demand of a health care system.

So the many market failures in health care, if taken individually, challenge the adequacy of markets to provide efficient market solutions. But what could happen when these market failures – the asymmetry of information between consumer and producer, clusters of local specialisms, and the difficulty of contracting – combine with a policy that put profit maximisation by hospitals at the centre of health care ?

It is then that the consumer, the patient, would be at greatest risk of being overcharged, given inappropriate treatments for financial rather than medical reasons, offered care not on the basis of clinical need but on the basis of ability to pay with some paying for care they do not need and others being unable to afford care they do need —- as a two tier health care system developed.

One response would be to regulate a private health care market, as we do in the case of utilities which are privately owned but independently regulated.

But let us list what, in Britain, a private sector healthcare regulator would have to do to fully safeguard the public interest. It would fall to a regulator:

– to control entry to the market by setting, specifying and policing basic standards for quality, workforce, facilities, governance and customer service;

– to maintain an inspection regime to protect patients by ensuring these standards were met;

– to step in when inadequate service was provided;

– to ensure security of supply and training provision;

– to police the market to guard against abuse, monopoly pricing and unfair competition;

– to adjudicate in disputes;

– to ensure that information supplied to patients and consumers is honest and accurate;

– and it would fall to a commissioner to attempt to specify every aspect of the service it purchases in a contract.

It is hardly surprising that in every advanced private health care system in the world clinical negligence litigation is a great and growing problem; complaints of bureaucracy legion; attempts by insurers to standardise entitlements and restrict choice controversial; huge government subsidy reluctantly seen as essential; and allegations of two tier care divisive.

Conventionally, regulation copes best in situations where we are insisting on minimum standards. But when there is an explicit undertaking that medical treatment must be given at the highest level to every patient based on health need and not ability to pay, then one is led to the conclusion that, even if that task of market regulation could be practically accomplished, public provision is likely to achieve more at less cost to efficiency and without putting at risk the gains from the ethic of public service where, at its best, dedicated public servants put duty, obligation and service before profit or personal reward.

So equality of access can best by guaranteed not just by public funding of health care but by public provision.

The case for non-market solutions for education and other public services can also be made and there is a debate that will continue about what equality of access means for the coming generation; but my point today is that we can make the case on efficiency as well as equity grounds that market failures in health care, as in some other services, are not easily subject to market solutions

So in health:

price signals don’t always work;
the consumer is not sovereign;
there is potential abuse of monopoly power;
it is hard to write and enforce contracts;
it is difficult to let a hospital go bust;
that we risk supplier induced demand.
And having made the case for the limits of markets in health care for both finance and provision, I do not accept:

that the future lies in a wholly centralised service;
that we should rule out contestability or a role for the private sector in the future;
and that we need devalue or ignore the important issue of greater consumer choice.

Even in a world where health care is not organised on market principles with consumers paying for their care, it is in the public interest to have devolution from the centre and to champion decentralised means of delivery.

This includes contestability between providers on the basis of cost and efficiency. And the secretary of state for health is matching the record increases in investment with further far reaching reforms:

– devolution with multi-year budgets for Primary Care and Hospital Trusts;

– more payment by results;

– NHS Foundation Hospitals with greater management flexibility;

– increased choice for patients through booked appointments and using nhs direct and walk-in centres;

– and, to ensure that the money invested yields the best results, independent audit, independent inspection, and independent scrutiny of local and national provision

Reforms that are essential not only to promote contestability but to decentralise control to where it can be exercised most effectively in the interests of citizens and patients.

And where the private sector can add to, not undermine, NHS capacity and challenge current practises by introducing innovative working methods, it has a proper role to play — as it always has — in the National Health Service. But it must not be able, when there are, for example, overall capacity constraints, to exploit private power to the detriment of efficiency and equity, which is why the areas that Alan Milburn is introducing a greater role for the private sector are not those areas where complex medical conditions and uncertain needs make it virtually impossible to capture them in the small print of contracts but those areas where the private sector can contract with the NHS for routine procedures, where we can write clear accountable contracts to deliver NHS clinical standards, where private capacity does not simply replace NHS capacity and where we ensure that patients are given treatment solely on clinical need.

Indeed, the case I have made and experience elsewhere leads us to conclude that if we were to go down the road of introducing markets wholesale into British health care we would be paying a very heavy price in efficiency and equity and be unable to deliver a Britain of opportunity and security for all.

And because we are clear about the limits as well as the uses of markets in health care, we can now put the debate about PFI in its proper context.

In my view the Private Finance Initiative is in the public interest. It must be right that government seeks to secure, over the long term, the most cost effective infrastructure for our public services. PFI enables us do this by binding in the private sector into open and accountable long term relationships with the public sector aimed at securing a proper sharing of risk and access to private service managerial expertise and innovative ideas to secure better public services.

The public sector has always drawn on the expertise and experience of the private sector. But, whereas in the public procurement of the past, private companies built and then walked away, PFI seeks to ensure that the companies involved are held transparently accountable for design faults, construction flaws overruns and long term maintenance so that value for money is achieved.

Those who say that PFI is privatisation have got it wrong because, while the private sector is rightly helping in public service delivery, the public interest is paramount.

PFI is thus quite distinct from privatisation – where for example in privatised health or education it would be the market and the price mechanism, not the public (sector), that defined and provided the service directly to those customers that can afford it and thus where the public sector can end up sacrificing both fairness and efficiency in the delivery of these core services.

But under PFI the public sector can harness the efficiency that can come from contestability and the private sector in pursuit of better quality public services and, throughout, retains control of the services it runs, enabling these services to be comprehensive, efficient, universal, and, where it is our public policy decision, choose free.

So there should be no principled objection against PFI expanding into new areas where the public sector can procure a defined product adequately and at no risk to its integrity and where the private sector has a core skill the public sector can benefit and learn from —– as in the provision of employment and training services, the renovation of schools and colleges, major projects of urban regeneration and social housing, and the management of prisons. And in each of these areas we can show that the use of private contractors is not at the expense of the public interest or need be at the expense of terms and conditions of employees but, if we can secure greater efficiency in the provision of the service, it is one means by which the public interest is advanced.

And this leads to my third theme. Even when a market is inappropriate, old command and control systems of management are not the way forward but, instead, we are seeking and should seek – in the NHS and other public services — a decentralised, not centralised, means of delivery compatible with equity and efficiency.

It is the assumption that the only alternative to command and control is a market means of public service delivery that has obscured the real challenge in health care and other public services —- the challenge to develop decentralised non market means of delivery that do not have to rely on the price mechanism to balance supply and demand.

Indeed it is only by developing decentralised non market models for public provision that respond to people’s needs, extend choice and are equitable and efficient that we will show to those who assert that whatever the market failure the state failure will always be greater that a publicly funded and provided service can deliver efficiency, equity and be responsive to the consumer.

This opens up a challenging agenda for modernisation and reform: more radical devolution of responsibilities from Whitehall as we give the role of Whitehall a sharper focus; greater attention to the conditions favouring a new localism in delivery with greater transparency, proper audit and new incentives. It demands an honest appraisal of the ethic of public service which, at its best, is public servants seeking to make a difference and, at its worst, just the defence of vested interests. In this new world we need to ask about the next steps in matching responsibility and reward in the civil service as we encourage professionals who welcome accountability and whose ethic is about maximising the difference they make; and we will need a better appreciation of the important role local, voluntary and charitable community organisations can play in future delivery.

Our approach to public services has been to move away from the old system of controls

– from a narrow centralism that dominated public expenditure control from the days of the Plowden report to devolution to regions, localities and communities;

– from a focus on inputs and process to a focus on outputs and results;

– from annual and incremental spending decisions that ignored investment needs to long-term, usually three year, allocations based on proper policy analysis of consumption and investment requirements;

– from a crude departmentalism that put the consumers needs second to how, by breaking down departmental boundaries, consumer needs can best be met;

– and from ad hoc policy initiatives and post code lotteries that failed to meet public expectations for lower waiting times, better exam results and, generally, better service to national targets set in public service agreements within which local authorities, hospitals, departments and others have the incentive to innovate and the discretion to do so.

The four principles of public service delivery set down by Tony Blair correctly require a balance to be struck between national standards and local autonomy.

And our long term objective has always been to match the attainment of ambitious national standards with the promotion of local autonomy so we can achieve efficiency equity and choice.

Far from targets being a tool for centralisation, the modern company has lean headquarters that set clear targets, set the incentives and rewards, provide the freedom for local managers to deliver and then they collect the information so that results can be monitored and assessed.

And so too in the public sector. Where objectives are clear well defined targets can provide direction; where expectations are properly shaped, they provide the necessary ambition; where people can see and assess the impact of policy, and where national standards are achieved and can be seen to be achieved, targets can make for the consistency, accountability, equity and flexibility to meet local needs that the traditional delivery of public services has often seemed to lack.

Without targets providing that necessary focus and discipline for achieving change, recent public service improvements – from literacy and numeracy performance in the primary school to waiting time and cancer and heart care improvements in the NHS — could simply not have been achieved.

And there is thus a critical role for targets, now and in the future, in shaping expectations of what can be delivered on what timescale and avoiding the trap of low ambition on the one hand and – when faced with decades of chronic investment – overpromising on the other.

We know that national targets work best when they are matched by a framework of devolution, accountability and participation — empowering public servants with the freedom and flexibility to make a difference: first, to tailor services to reflect local needs and preferences; second, develop innovative approaches to service delivery and raise standards; and third to enable – as we should – a bonfire of the old input, interventionist, departmentalist controls over front line public service managers — which is too often what they still find frustrating. And so it is right to consider greater local autonomy, and its corollary, greater local democratic oversight.

What then are the next steps as we prepare for our next spending review and as targets are achieved and national standards established ?

One way forward is that local communities should have the freedom to agree for each service their own local performance standards – choosing their own performance indicators and monitoring both the national and local performance indicators with as a backstop, last resort national powers to step back in.

Accountability would be enhanced with local and national performance indicators published and tracked, and – as pioneered in New York – the local community expecting their local managers to continuously monitor and learn from their performance.

Further reforms flow from such improvements: greater flexibility for local pay and conditions of service; the reduction of ring fenced budgeting; the reform of both inspectorates and monitoring regimes to recognise the benefits of local discretion; work with service providers and user groups on performance indicators; to help community groups and local residents, especially in poor areas, build their capacity to hold local services to account.

So the accountability of local services providers to patients, parents and local communities would be improved through greater transparency and a deeper democracy, tailoring services to needs and choices expressed both individually and collectively.

But we have also to get the balance right between responsiveness to choice and efficiency —- and equity. Local autonomy without national standards may lead to increased inequality between people and regions and the return of the post code lotteries. And the view we take on the appropriate balance between efficiency diversity and equity will be shaped by the values we hold. The modern challenge is to move beyond old assumptions under which equity was seen to go hand in hand with uniformity; or diversity appeared to lead inevitably to inequality. Instead we should seek the maximum amount of diversity consistent with equity.

Indeed we are, in my view, already developing non market and non command and control mechanism for service delivery and championing diversity by devolving further and faster to local government, the regions and to the voluntary sector and i want to suggest next steps here too.

In local government with clear and concise information about each councils performance across its local services, with inspection regimes now more proportionate and with interventions concentrated on the small number of failing councils, John Prescott has moved us far from the destructive centralism – the universal capping, inflexible borrowing, the poll tax – of the 1980s and early 1990s.

As we move forward we propose more freedoms and flexibilities – a 75 per cent cut in the number of plans; reduced ring-fencing; local PSA agreements that give localities more discretion; more targeted and thus more limited inspection; and more freedom with a fairer prudential regime for borrowing; greater freedom to trade; more scope to use self generated income including the freedom to benefit from new rates income from the growth of new businesses — freedoms and flexibilities that reflect a government that enables and empowers rather than direct and controls.

And in return for reform and results, and as an incentive to all the rest, the best performing localities will soon have even more freedoms and flexibilities:

– the removal of both revenue and capital ring fencing;

– the withdrawal of reserve powers over capping;

– sixty plans reduced to just two required – the Best Value Performance Plan and a Community Plan;
and a three year holiday from inspection.

Freedom and flexibility matters just as much as we innovate with a new regional policy with its emphasis on indigenous sources of economic strength and thus a philosophy that requires genuine devolution of power from the centre.

There has been more devolution to English regions in the last few years than in the preceding one hundred years and this localism involves the freedom to determine local needs in regional development agency budgets worth £2 billion a year and in economic development, regeneration, tourism, planning, and – from April in selected pilots – the management of skills, training and business support.

Soon 90 per cent of the £7 billion a year learning and skills budget, 50 per cent of the small business services budget and the vast majority of housing capital investment will be devolved to the freedom and flexibility of local decision-making as we pioneer non- centralist means of delivering these services.

The financial freedoms and flexibilities are matched by greater accountability through the role of regional chambers and, for those who in time choose to have them, elected regional assemblies.

And having, in the NHS, already devolved 75 per cent of health budgets to primary care trusts, we have also established strategic health authorities. And there is already discussion of democratic arrangements in these areas too.

There is greater freedom and flexibility, too, for charities, voluntary and community organisations as they take a bigger role in the delivery of services.

At the heart of each of the new services we have played a part in developing – Sure Start for the under- fours, the Children’s Fund, IT Learning Centres, Healthy Living Centres, the New Deal for jobs, the New Deal for Communities, as well as the Safer Communities Initiative, Communities Against Drugs, the Futurebuilders programme and gift aid – is a genuine break with recent past: services, once centrally funded and organised, can and should now be led, organised and delivered by voluntary, charitable and community organisations.

This new direction – this agenda for prosperity and social reform — moves us forward from the era of an old Britain weakened by ‘the man in Whitehall knows best’ towards a new Britain strengthened by local centres awash with initiative energy and dynamism. And the next steps should include not just further reform of local government but reform in the civil service as we map out the full implications of extending choice, equity and efficiency in individual public services.

Of course in each decade the relationship between individuals markets and communities will evolve as technology and rising expectations challenge each generation’s vision of what is possible and best.

But I am suggesting today that, today and in the future, in the large areas of the economy I have highlighted, our mission must be relentless: to strengthen markets to maximise efficiency. And, in those areas where markets failures are chronic, I am suggesting that we step up our efforts to pioneer more decentralised systems of public service delivery.

This agenda I propose – one where we advance enterprise and fairness together – not only meets the contemporary challenges of competitiveness and equity but is, in my view, wholly in tune with British traditions and enduring British values.

Indeed this agenda for prosperity and reform is the modern means of applying enduring British values.

For centuries britishness has been rightly defined to the world as a profound belief in liberty and in the spirit of enterprise, combined with a deep civic pride that has emphasised the importance of what Orwell called decency: fair play and equity.

It is this long standing commitment to both enterprise and fairness which has shaped our past that now should not only define our economic policy but Britain’s modern mission as a nation.

Some continents are defined to the world as beacons of enterprise but at the cost of fairness; others as beacons of fairness or social cohesion at the cost of efficiency. In our time, Britain can be a beacon for a world where enterprise and fairness march forward together. It is this very British idea and patriotic purpose, and its enormous potential for shaping our country’s future prosperity, that should give us the strength to make all the tough and demanding reforms now necessary to create a Britain of opportunity and security for all.

Gordon Brown – 2003 Speech in Wolverhampton


Below is the text of the speech made by Gordon Brown, the then Chancellor of the Exchequer, at the opening of the Millennium City building at the University of Wolverhampton on 7 February 2003.

It is a great pleasure to be back here at Wolverhampton University today to celebrate the completion of the first phase of your multi million pound modernisation programme – this Millennium City Building which will expand your teaching, learning and research facilities and signals a dynamic new era for the university.

And I want to congratulate this university which I have seen advance confidently from technical college to polytechnic, to university, to leading regional university on its quality, diversity and its growing importance as a centre of knowledge, ideas and technological expertise for the developing economy of the West Midlands.

And I want to pay particular tribute to your Vice Chancellor, Professor John Brooks, and – if I might add a personal note – to the work and international achievements of Lord Paul whose quiet dignity, business acumen, renowned philanthropy and social engagement is respected and admired not just in one continent of the world but in every continent.

And it is also a pleasure for me to be back in the city of Wolverhampton – to congratulate the people of Wolverhampton on your long deserved and now rightly achieved city status, and to congratulate this city with a proud manufacturing heritage now diversifying into new hi-tech and service industries – and able to do so, in large part, because of the first class facilities provided by the rapidly expanding local Science Park.

And it is a privilege to be here in the West Midlands at a time when, despite a downturn in the world economy, the region – the heartland of British manufacturing – is again leading Britain, with nearly 60,000 new businesses created and over 70,000 more people in jobs since 1997 — clearly demonstrating the importance of this heartland region to the whole of the British economy.

With low inflation and domestic stability, Britain remains better placed than in the past to cope with the world economic downturn and yesterday, because inflation is low, the Bank of England was able to respond to lower world economic growth and its potential impact on the British economy with lower interest rates.

And here in Britain we will continue to have the strength to maintain and lock in our tough and disciplined approach to inflation and take the right long term decisions for Britain. And that is why just as we must have discipline on pay in the private sector it is right that there be continued and long term discipline in the decisions we make, as today, on public sector pay — and as we look forward to the conclusion of other pay negotiations, let us remind ourselves that every pay settlement must be linked to productivity so that investment in our public services is matched by reform.

It is by holding fast to our economic disciplines that Britain, despite the world wide slowdown, has managed to combine low inflation with high levels of employment.

And when world trade begins to move forward, there is a real opportunity, building on that stability, for British business and the British economy generally.

On Monday I said our economic task was to strengthen markets and help markets work better.

This will inform this spring’s Budget decisions.

I want business, workforces and Government to work together so that, building on Britain’s platform of stability, we can ensure a more flexible, adaptable and productive economy in the time ahead as we meet the challenges of globalisation and in particular the restructuring of both low value added and high value added industries and services across the world.

And it is our new approach to regional policy, so relevant to this university and this city and this region, that I want to emphasise in the few minutes I have today: how together we can build in the West Midlands and all our regions indigenous economic strength – by investing in skills, infrastructure and innovation – and help our regions become centres of energy, dynamism and economic strength in the United Kingdom as a whole.

And how the universities – with their unique knowledge base – can contribute through teaching, technology transfer and new services to business to the development of jobs, wealth and the quality of life regionally and nationally – making a university like this absolutely central to the development of the new Britain.

Let me forecast that the next decade will see the biggest ever shift of power from Whitehall and Westminster to regions, localities and communities — moving Britain from the “old Whitehall knows best” culture to a Britain of not one but many centres of initiative and decision-making power.

Already there has been more devolution to English regions in the last few years than in the preceding one hundred years. This new regional policy, backed by the Regional Development Agencies, with its emphasis on indigenous sources of economic strength is based on a genuine devolution of power in economic policymaking from the centre – and indeed the Spending Review announced that Regional Development Agencies will have budgets worth in total £2 billion a year; the flexibility to spend as they determine regional needs; and strengthened responsibility for economic development, tourism, skills, planning and – from April in the West Midlands – the management of business support.

And with further devolution just announced in the provision of housing – and greater regional involvement in transport as our long term aim – this major decentralisation is transforming relationships between the centre and localities.

Soon 90 per cent of the £7 billion a year learning and skills budget, 50 per cent of the Small Business Services budget and the vast majority of housing capital investment will be devolved to the freedom and flexibility of local decision-making as we pioneer non-centralist means of delivering these services.

And these financial freedoms and flexibilities are being matched by greater accountability through the role of regional chambers and, for those who in time choose to have them, elected regional assemblies. And having, in the NHS, already devolved 75 per cent of health budgets to Primary Care Trusts, we have also established regional Strategic Health Authorities. And there is discussion of democratic arrangements in these areas too.

Freedom and flexibility matter just as much in local government. And in return for reform and results, and as an incentive to all the rest, the best performing localities will soon have even more freedoms and flexibilities including:

The removal of both revenue and capital ring fencing;

The withdrawal of reserve powers over capping;

Sixty plans reduced to just two required – the Best Value

Performance Plan and a Community Plan;

And a three year holiday from inspection.

In other words – government enabling and empowering rather than directing and controlling.

And there is greater freedom and flexibility, too, for charities, voluntary and community organisations as they take a bigger role in the delivery of services. At the heart of many of the new services we have played a part in developing – Sure Start nurseries, the Children’s Fund, IT Learning Centres, Healthy Living Centres, the New Deal for Communities, the Safer Communities Initiative, Communities Against Drugs, the Futurebuilders Programme – is a genuine break with the recent past: services not only involving voluntary and charitable organisations but being run through and by them – not implementing a standardised central plan but reflecting the needs of local communities and families.

So instead of people looking to Whitehall for solutions in locality after locality, more and more people are themselves taking more control of the decisions that most affect them – a devolution of power, an empowerment of local centres of initiative that is now ready to spread across regions, local government and communities, large and small.

Our long term objective has always been to match the attainment of ambitious national standards with the promotion of local autonomy so we can achieve efficiency, equity and choice. In education, health and other services our first priority was to end the post code lotteries and through national targets establish national standards below which our public services should never fall. The next step in service delivery is empowering local communities with the freedom to agree for their own public services their own local performance standards – choosing their own performance indicators on top of national targets and the local community expecting their local managers to continuously monitor and learn from their performance.

This new direction – this new localism — moves us forward from an old Britain weakened by centuries of centralisation towards a new Britain strengthened by local centres of initiative, energy and dynamism.

And in this way, I believe that a new era – an age of active citizenship and an enabling state – is now within our grasp —- at its core, a renewal of civic society where the rights to decent services and the responsibilities of citizenship go hand in hand.

And as power devolves and decentralises away from London, here in the midlands there are huge new opportunities – at this university, in this city and in this region.

So, once again, I would like to thank you for inviting me here today and for awarding me an honorary degree.

Over the last few years, Wolverhampton University has gone from strength to strength – providing high quality teaching and research, and generating ever-increasing benefits for the businesses in the surrounding community — and this energy, combined with our new regional policy, will ensure it continues to thrive for years to come.

Thank you.

Gordon Brown – 2003 Speech on Modern Apprenticeships


Below is the text of the speech made by Gordon Brown, the then Chancellor of the Exchequer, at 11, Downing Street, London on 25 February 2003.

I am delighted to be here today with Charles Clarke, Sir Roy Gardner and Bryan Sanderson – and to have this opportunity to welcome you all to No 11 Downing Street for the launch of the new National Modern Apprenticeship Taskforce.

The launch of this taskforce marks a step change in our campaign to bring employers together with Government, trade unions, the voluntary sector and other partners to improve the skills of our workforce.

First let me say that I am particularly pleased that Sir Roy Gardner has agreed to chair the Taskforce. Sir Roy has been at the forefront of employers’ work to promote modern apprenticeships and into the future Centrica will continue to be a leading example with around 50 per cent of their recruitment coming from the modern apprenticeship scheme.

And I would also like to take this opportunity to thank both Sir Roy and Ian Ferguson, the vice chairman of the taskforce, for the work that they have already done since the Pre-Budget Report, in partnership with the Department for Education and Skills, the Learning and Skills Council and the Treasury, to ensure that the taskforce will be both experienced and widely representative.

Skills are critical to an individual’s chances of success – to push a teenager into the world of work today without any qualifications is to put them at lifetime risk of poverty, failure and wasted potential.

And a skilled workforce is also essential for the wider health of our economy. As the global economy restructures itself; as advanced industrial economies move from low value added, low skilled production, to high value added, high skill products and services; and as global competition is challenging every industry and almost every service our target for skills – 90 per cent with skills by 2010, is even more necessary.

So we are combining flexibility with active intervention to provide skills, information and incentives to offer the best route to full employment.

Of all of this Government’s reforms over the last six years, the New Deal has been the most successful. Unemployment is lower than at any time for 25 years and 1.5 million more jobs have been created. Where there were 350,000 long term youth unemployed in the mid 1980s, there are now less than 6,000. And despite the impact of the global slowdown unemployment in Britain is lower than in the Euro Area, Japan and America.

But we are not complacent and in the next stage of the New Deal conditionality and compulsion will become even more important as we help labour markets to move more quickly to get people back to work and to prevent too many long-term unemployed falling through the net.

Just as we act to get those unemployed for long periods back to work, so we should consider measures to help the short-term unemployed move more quickly back into the labour force. And where there are barriers to the unemployed getting back to work it is right to extend both the opportunities and the compulsion of the new deal to make labour markets more flexible as we tackle the social and economic causes of unemployment.

And just as we will not flinch from introducing increasingly tough penalties for those who refuse to accept their responsibility to take the job opportunities on offer, so too we are prepared to offer high quality training to enable people to develop transferable skills.

Skills are Britain’s Achilles’ heel – 8 million people have below level 2 qualifications including 20 per cent of 18-24 year olds – and as a Government our ambition is nothing less than a revolution in standards across the education and skills sector.

So alongside our Employer Training Pilots, the University for Industry and ambitious targets to improve the basic literacy and numeracy of 1.5 million adults by 2007, we are offering more opportunities in scientific and technical education for young people and encouraging the development of workplace skills.

Through Educational Maintenance Allowances and improvements in post-school training we are expanding work-relevant qualifications – with more young people staying on at school, more going into further education colleges as well as university, and more enjoying modern apprenticeships.

Apprenticeships, which a few years ago were dying, have risen in number to 220,000 today – increasing to over 300,000 by 2004, covering services as well as the industrial sector – and our aim is that over a quarter of young people aged between 16 and 22 will take part in the scheme by 2004, with even more benefiting by the end of the decade.

And because we must not only provide high quality training when we have the recruits but ensure that more young people know about the opportunities available, we are expanding the modern apprenticeship scheme:

Encouraging girls as well as boys to consider careers in a wider range of trades;

Improving the information available in schools for young people interested in developing craft skills;

And persuading employers of all sizes to reach out and compete for new recruits through this framework.

This is a challenging task and the Modern Apprenticeship Taskforce that we are launching today will play a crucial role.

The Taskforce will bring together employers from sectors across the economy, trade unions, government and the voluntary sector to ensure that the modern apprenticeship programme continues to grow in breadth, quality and in numbers; that we deliver the best possible work-based learning to our young people; and that, in British industry and across the economy, we have the flexibility we urgently need to prosper.

Gordon Brown – 2003 Speech Between Business and the Community


Below is the text of the speech made by Gordon Brown, the then Chancellor of the Exchequer, to the Future Wealth of Nations Conference held in Canary Wharf, London, on 4 March 2003.

It is a great pleasure to be here in Tower Hamlets today and to congratulate all of you – your MP, councillors, businessmen and women, local community organisations – on your success in the last six years since the New Deal was created of reducing unemployment in this area from over 6,700 unemployed to 4700 – a cut of nearly 30 per cent.

With youth unemployment down from over 900 to 300 – a cut of over 65 per cent.

If only one person had found a job that would be good…but you have working together, found jobs for nearly 2,000.

And I know you are and should be particularly proud not just of what you are achieving in employment now, but in education for the future where you’ve seen the greatest increase in educational achievement of any borough in the country – and I’d like to add my congratulations to pupils, parents, teachers and everyone involved on this great success. In particular I want to thank all the headteachers here today for the dedication you show and the difference you make to the lives of the children in this borough.

I am delighted to be here this morning and I’d like to begin by thanking Oona for organising today’s conference.

Over the last 6 years as Member of Parliament for Bethnal Green and Bow, Oona has made a real difference to the lives of people here in the East End, fighting their corner when there are problems, celebrating their successes and working hard to highlight the real opportunities this area offers.

Oona’s reputation both in Parliament and across government for speaking up on behalf of her constituents is renowned.

And if she lobbies businesses in Canary Wharf as hard as she lobbies me in the Treasury, many of you here today have my sympathy!

Oona is a tireless advocate for her constituents, and today is testament to the hard work she has put in to broker partnerships between business, the voluntary sector and local people.

Because we know that many problems once addressed only by the state gaining more power can be solved today only by the state giving much of its power back to the people. The Government is determined to do more to build, strengthen and extend the links between the public, private and voluntary sectors – and we can already see the results of these partnerships here in Tower Hamlets:

The local Employment Zone and Action Team – equipping people with the skills they need to move into the jobs that are available both in the City and beyond.

The East London Health Action Zone where business men and women act as mentors to local GPs.

The Ocean Estate and Weavers and Spitalfields Sure Start projects providing access to health, education and childcare services for nearly 2,500 under 4s.

The New Deal for Communities and local Neighbourhood Renewal Strategies which are helping turn round your poorest neighbourhoods.

And the “Idea Store” which is combining a traditional library with an innovative new learning centre and computer facilities.

All these projects showing how, for the first time, public services can not only involve private, voluntary and charitable organisations, but can be run through and by them – not implementing a standardised central plan, but reflecting the needs of local communities and families.

The private sector is already playing a key role in many of these projects and it is a privilege to be here to recognise the contribution that many of the companies represented here today, as well as many others, are making not just to the strength of the British economy but also to the strength and vitality of British society – as your support for community regeneration, employee volunteering, mentoring and so many other initiatives in our community shows.

And as you expand and advance an enterprising economy in our country you hold the key to our economic prosperity.

But you are here today because you believe that business also has a responsibility to play a role not just in the traditional marketplaces of our country but in the real life neighbourhoods and communities in which you find your employees and your customers.

And that is what this conference is all about – how corporate self interest and corporate social responsibility are not irreconcilable opposites but can move forward in unison.

And what is fascinating as you survey the changes over recent decades – as global communication and global competition has intensified – is the progress that has been made as our shared understanding of corporate social responsibility has developed and deepened.

An initiative that began by focusing primarily on businesses giving money away is now widened to include issues of how companies make money.

And in this modern era, issues of staff morale and motivation, brand loyalty and reputational risk, and environmental sustainability are now also widely recognised as key drivers of competitive advantage.

So as corporate social responsibility has come to mean not just charity or philanthropy but also greater transparency, environmental care and direct engagement in communities – we have seen British companies lead the world in the advancement of corporate social responsibility as it has moved from the margins to the mainstream, from the arena of charity to the arena of corporate strategy.

Corporate social responsibility broadening all the time into a belief that economic, social and environmental objectives can be pursued together and in harmony.

It is a recognition that trust is critical to success; that reputation management is essential; that a brand must enjoy people’s confidence.

It is a recognition that when business loses trust and then legitimacy – either through lack of transparency or social engagement or corporate irresponsibility, whether it be Enron or Worldcom – it is at its most vulnerable.

And it is a recognition that social responsibility is no longer an optional extra but a necessity; not a part of the business of a company but at its heart; not a sideshow but a centrepiece; not incidental but integral to what you do — a smart strategy for modern business.

And businesses up and down the country are already demonstrating that they understand that corporate self interest and corporate social responsibility – the good economy and the good society – advance together:

Businesses making its equipment available to the disabled, developing new technologies in doing so as they give special help to a vulnerable group

Companies setting up in deprived areas, recruiting the local unemployed and at one and the same time creating profitable local enterprises and bringing the out of work back into work

Firms sending trainee workers to help out in local charitable or community organisations helping poor communities and gaining training opportunities for their employees

Banks providing basic accounts for people previously financially excluded and thereby tapping new markets and creating a culture of saving amongst low income families.

And so many of you here today are already making a huge contribution.

But now is the time to look at what more can be done, to scale up your activities, share best practice, and make even more of a difference.

And with a new understanding of the changing role of business in the community, governments are also challenged to leave behind the old ideas that see the achievement of a more dynamic market economy and a fair society as somehow mutually exclusive.

For fifty years Britain was bedevilled by the sterile and self defeating argument that there was a fundamental choice to be made between promoting a dynamic economy and creating a fairer society. That enterprise is bought only at the cost of fairness and fairness only at the price of enterprise.

But whether it is by tapping the potential of all through equality of educational opportunity, or through recognizing, our responsibilities to the environment for the next generation, or through companies engaging in the community in which they operate, people now see that enterprise and fairness can advance together. And I believe the challenge in our generation is to build a consensus in our country that stretches from the poorest to the richest community, from left to right of the political spectrum, that instead of enterprise at the cost of fairness or fairness at the cost of enterprise, Britain can lead the way in showing the world that enterprise and fairness move forward together.

And all this demands that government too must change the way we do things and, in changing our ways, face up to our responsibilities.

That is why we will continue to make the tax system the best in the world for encouraging individual and corporate giving, including extending the 10 per cent supplement on payroll giving donations until 2004.

Why we are working with business and the voluntary sector to develop a package of measures to encourage more employees to give both time and money to charity through the “Corporate Challenge”.

And why in high unemployment communities like Tower Hamlets we are now working together for economic renewal – creating new incentives to promote greater business activity.

In the last six years the number of businesses in Tower Hamlets has risen from 6,800 to 8,700 – an increase of nearly 2,000 businesses in this area alone – but we can still do more.

If in the best off neighbourhoods there are 50 small businesses creating jobs but in the poorest areas only 4 or 5, then there are less jobs, reduced income for services, and yet because of unemployment more social problems that public services need to fund. So we are agreed that one of the best anti poverty, pro jobs programmes is to encourage more businesses to start up and grow especially in areas of greatest poverty.

I believe we should see inner-city areas not as no-go areas for business or simply “problem” areas but as areas of opportunity: new markets where businesses can thrive because of the competitive advantages they often offer – with strategic locations, untapped resources, a high density of local purchasing power and the potential of their workforce.

So to remove the barriers preventing firms from starting up and growing in our most deprived communities, we have designated 2000 new enterprise areas – 18 of these in Tower Hamlets – where we encourage economic activity by cutting the cost of starting up, investing, employing, training, managing the payroll.

And with the new Community Investment Tax Credit giving new incentives for business investment in those areas – and new charity guidelines now defining economic regeneration as eligible for charitable status – I hope that working together we can bring investment, jobs and prosperity to areas that prosperity has by-passed.

But if we are to have the deeper and wider entrepreneurial culture we want, we need not just greater incentives for business activity in deprived areas but more businesses to become involved in our schools and colleges – one of the key themes of today’s conference.

Currently only 30 per cent – and in many areas as few as 15 per cent – of young people gain any experience of enterprise.

And it is crucial that we act now to equip our children with the enterprising skills and experience to go out into this fast changing world, whatever career paths they choose.

In Britain we have many world class businesses but productivity growth still lags behind many of our competitors and the number of business start ups remains low with half the proportion of people in the UK actively considering starting a new business compared to the United States.

Whereas enterprise in the US is seen as an exciting career option for young people, it doesn’t appear so glamorous in the UK and I want to turn this perception around.

I want every young person to hear about, and experience, the world of business; every college to be aware of the opportunities in business, even to start a business; and every teacher to be able to communicate the virtues of business and enterprise.

I want businessmen and women going into schools helping to provide enterprise activities; I want every student to have a quality experience of enterprise and contact with business before they leave school; I want every community to see business leaders as role models for their children.

Our ambition is to raise the aspirations of all our children and then show how these aspirations can be realised.

That is why the government is implementing the recommendations of the Review of Enterprise and Education led by Howard Davies – investing £75 million over the next three years so that, by 2006, all pupils will have at least 5 days of enterprise education before leaving school.

But we simply cannot make progress without the active involvement of the business community itself.

There are already many examples of City and Canary Wharf companies that have established trailblazing partnerships with schools in Tower Hamlets – sending employees into schools to provide classroom support, giving pupils the opportunity to undertake work experience or visit factories and operational sites, being mentors and career counsellors to young people or serving as business governors.

Later this morning Mulberry School will be highlighting their partnership with the Bank of America but I could equally mention the contributions of Unilever, Merril Lynch, Morgan Stanley, Lehman Brothers, to name just a few.

When I was at school the world of education was far too remote from the world of business but thanks to the activities of many of the companies here today, this is changing for the better.

But I believe that we can still do more and so I am urging all of you here today to forge links and partnerships with schools and colleges in Tower Hamlets and beyond.

In this way every business in the country will be helping to forge the new enterprise culture that we want to see, tapping the immense skill and entrepreneurial talent that exists in Britain to the benefit of us all – corporate social responsibility not just about “doing the right thing” but a core part of improving our competitive edge.

Now we have many demands on our resources and energies as a government.

And I make no apology for saying we will spend what it takes to prevent the proliferation of chemical and biological weapons by states that defy the international community and to advance the cause of disarmament. Last year I set aside one billion pounds to be drawn upon by the ministry of defence for security and military preparations, if and when it became necessary. Last month I set aside an additional £750 million. Our armed forces do an outstanding job for Britain and today I make clear our gratitude for the work that they do and my resolve to ensure our armed forces are properly supported for whatever lies ahead. The international community must not stand by whilst a regime that proliferates weapons of mass destruction defies more than a decade of international agreements.

But while we discharge our international responsibilities we will also discharge our domestic responsibilities.

And my duty is to those areas and communities of this country which for too long had suffered high unemployment and high levels of deprivation who will have the resources through the new deal and our community regeneration budgets that are necessary. It is around regeneration and how we deliver it that this conference will discuss and debate today. And I believe with its breadth of participation from business and the community this conference shows there is a will to work together to create a Britain where just as employment is open to all, enterprise is open to all – a Britain with a creative, innovative and enterprising economy in every area of our country.

Just as Britain works best when Britain works together so – as Oona’s initiative shows – Tower Hamlets works best when Tower Hamlets works together.

Gordon Brown – 2003 Speech at British Chambers of Commerce’s Annual Conference


Below is the text of the speech made by Gordon Brown, the then Chancellor of the Exchequer, at the British Chambers of Commerce’s Annual Conference held in London on 31 March 2003.

It is a pleasure to be here this morning and to have the opportunity to thank all of you here for the contribution you make to the success of the British economy.

Your dynamism, your achievements, your success for Britain is evidence that Britain truly is an enterprising nation.

You are the wealth creators, the men and women who make our nation more prosperous

And with over 135,000 businesses as members, the British Chambers of Commerce are a powerful voice, championing the cause of businesses across government and around the country.

And I want to congratulate your chief executive and staff for their work — and your new president Isabella Moore for the work she does regionally, nationally and internationally to make that voice of the British Chambers of Commerce count for Britain.

Madam President, today our country is having to deal with a new security threat: the danger from states with weapons of mass destruction and the risk of those weapons falling into the hands of terrorists.

All of us know families who have someone in the armed forces in Iraq.

All of us will wish to send them our best wishes in all they do and achieve for our country.

All of us will wish to send condolences to the families of the 25 British servicemen who have sacrificed their lives.

And all of us will wish to ensure that the armed forces are properly equipped for the future.

So I can tell you that I have set aside a total of 3 billion pounds in a special reserve to be drawn upon by the armed forces where necessary, so that we can honour the commitments we have made to our forces.

Between us Europe and the United States account for 70 per cent of the world’s output.

And I believe that, as Tony Blair has said, one of the lessons of the United Nations debates over Iraq is that both great continents should recognise that we do better as partners not rivals, not at odds with each other but true allies in creating both peace and prosperity round the world.

We know that Europe and America have military ties in NATO that have bound us together throughout the tense cold war years in pursuit of peace.

I believe we must create as strong economic and political ties so that together in these dangerous post cold war years we can work together in pursuit of peace and prosperity.

And so we must strengthen not weaken our links, and deepen and widen the transatlantic alliance.

And so I propose that we act to remove the remaining industrial tariffs that divide us and cause unnecessary trade disputes.

I propose we liberalise services across Europe and America.

I propose we agree a more consistent approach to competition policy.

And I propose in the same way that in the 1980s the Cecchini study demonstrated that cooperation in Europe would bring growth, jobs and prosperity, we examine and demonstrate the gains in jobs, output and prosperity from breaking down the barriers that frustrate trade and commerce between the USA and Europe. We should recognise that when Europe and America are set apart from each other everyone loses but when Europe and America work as one in partnership there is little that we cannot achieve for the world together.

President, in the last few months a hesitant global recovery has been stalled as the oil price has fluctuated widely, world trade growth has been slow and, partly because of all the political uncertainties, global equity markets have fallen.

And I understand the concerns that this uncertainty causes for businesses, large and small

I know the difficulties you as manufacturers and service companies trading in a world economy face when twenty of the world’s biggest economies, accounting for sixty per cent of world output, have been in recession.

I know the effect on business investment when, continent-by-continent, through America, Europe and Asia we have had to face the first simultaneous world slowdown for almost thirty years.

The recent volatility in global stock markets – with US markets now down 43 per cent since their peak, UK markets down 47 per cent, France down 61 per cent and Germany down 69 per cent – has demonstrated once again that no country can insulate itself from the ups and downs of the world economy.

But it is because you and I have understood that monetary and fiscal regimes must work to create stability in challenging times as well as good times that — with the independence of the Bank of England, our fiscal rules to put public finances in a sustainable position and tough decisions in 1997 on deficit and debt reduction – we sought to ensure that Britain is better placed than we have been in the past to deal with economic challenges and ongoing risks.

Instead of being, as in previous downturns, first into recession, the country that normally suffers most, Britain has continued to grow in every quarter over the past six years while other major economies have been in recession.

And I am confident that, tested in adversity, our monetary and fiscal regime built around the Bank of England is demonstrating its credibility and resilience. And I can assure you that as a government we will take no risks with our hard won stability.

And even in these difficult times with growth slower round the world and the extra costs of military action I can tell you that because of the tough decisions we have taken we can and will fulfil all our commitments and at the same time meet our fiscal rules and disciplines.

At this time of uncertainty for the world economy, it is important that each continent plays its part in maintaining the conditions for stability and growth.

In the US reforms are underway to tackle an issue that has affected confidence: to improve corporate governance and auditing and accounting standards. In Japan there is reform to the financial and banking sector.

Growth in the Euro area is forecast be only around 1 per cent for the third successive year – the longest period of low growth for a decade.

And so as we continue to push for further economic reforms in Europe to promote flexibility and growth, we must not allow the current uncertain outlook for the world economy to be an excuse for a slowdown in the momentum of reform.

In particular, we need a stronger and more independent competition policy for Europe with the European competition authorities undertaking pro active investigations into markets and sectors that need opened up to the pressure of competition and prevent British firms from being excluded from European markets.

In the same way we must, as you have urged us today with your productivity proposals, keep up the pace of reform and liberalisation and the push for greater flexibility in Britain.

In the last few years when we, the government and the Chambers of Commerce, have worked together we have, thanks to your efforts in every region. We have achieved, even during a world downturn, a great deal.

America, Germany, Japan – our strongest competitors – have been in recession but it was because you insisted that creating economic stability was the challenge that mattered most that with Bank of England independence we have enjoyed:

– the lowest inflation for thirty years;

– the lowest interest rates for over forty years; and because of that stability achieved the longest period of sustained growth for fifty years.

You told us that if we maintained a stable economy you as businesses could create large numbers of jobs in every region of the country.

And it is because of your efforts that I can report to you that today, despite all the difficulties round the world, Britain has the highest levels of employment in our history:

– 150,000 jobs in the last quarter of the year;

– 253,000 more jobs created in the British economy in the last year;
In total 1.5 million more people in work since 1997.

Unemployment in France is 9 per cent, Germany 9 per cent, Italy 9 per cent, in the new European Union of 25, 9 per cent, but in Britain 5 per cent.

Britain’s unemployment lower now than not only the euro area but lower than in Japan and America too for the first time for nearly fifty years.

And just as you asked us to give priority to stability and the environment for job creation, so you have asked us to remove the barriers to growth and prosperity and to tackle bureaucracy and regulation.

You asked us to look at small business corporation tax so that we could reward entrepreneurship and encourage new investment

So we cut small business corporation tax from 23p to 20p and then to 19p last year and then at the same time we abolished the 10p tax rate and ensured that the first ten thousand pounds of profits are taxed at zero.

You asked us to look at capital gains tax which had for years been set at 40 per cent and discouraged new investment.

Amidst all our other priorities – the health service, schools, transport, policing – we decided that it was right to reduce capital gains tax from 40p to 10p for business investments held for two years or more and make it easier for men and women selling their business on retirement to receive more of the benefit of their hard work.

You asked us to look at the complexity of administering VAT.

So instead of having to account for every transaction we now have an automatic VAT calculation for small businesses and we are lifting the burden of VAT red tape off the shoulders of nearly half a million companies, enabling each of them to save up to 1,000 pounds in compliance costs – with another 200,000 firms due to benefit next month.

And today we are publishing a new, simple and straightforward guide to setting up in business — giving entrepreneurs the advice and support they need as they take their first steps.

Do you remember when back in 1991 John Major complained that “you need 28 separate licenses, certificates and registrations just to start a business”?

That’s why, taking your advice, we’ve reduced the cost and time it takes to form a business so that Britain is now best in Europe for quick and efficient business start ups.

Where in the rest of Europe it takes around 4 weeks and an average of 600 pounds in red tape costs: in Britain just 1 week and only 30 pounds in administration costs.

And we need to do more. That’s why we’re not only assessing whether each regulation, past and present, is really necessary and why we’re urging Brussels to do the same.

You asked us also to look at how banks and financial institutions meet the needs of small business. That’s why we accepted the recommendations of the competition commission requiring the big four banks to offer you either interest or free banking and that’s why we’ve set up the Phoenix Fund, regional venture capital funds and have now extended the Small Business Loan Guarantee Scheme to include access to finance for a wider range of firms including catering, retail and vehicle repairs.

And here too we’ll continue to listen and do more.

We heard you when you called for tax reliefs to promote research and development – help to turn your ideas into new business, jobs and profits. And so we have amongst the most generous system of R and D credits in Europe. And here again we want to do more.

And we heard you when you called for incentives for investment so we have made capital allowances for small and medium sized businesses permanent with a 100 per cent allowance for investment in IT.

And when you, rightly, have raised the question of the national insurance tax rise, let me say that there would have been no need for any tax rise had it not been for the rising costs in every part of the world – Europe, America, Japan and Asia, of new life-saving health technologies and the urgent need for greater capacity in British health care.

In America employers health costs, paying for private insurance, have risen 24 per cent in two years and employers are paying much more than in the UK – whether it is in America with private insurance of France and Germany through employers’ social insurance

And I can tell you that in Britain’s case the changes have been costed to fund health care improvements not just for this year and next but for the next five years, and we have insisted on the extra money – 40 billion pounds a year extra for health by 2008 – not only delivering a total of 74,000 nurses and 25,000 doctors between 1997 and 2008 but made dependent on reform to ensure greater results.

Last year, your then president Anthony Goldstone, told this conference that business pays “a higher price than most when the NHS does not operate as it should.” And he said “We in business know that we get what we pay for. If we want a world-class health service in the UK we need to pay more.”

And when nearly 200 million work days a year – at a cost to business of over 10 billion pounds – are lost due to employee sickness and ill health; and when a fitter, healthier workforce will raise productivity to the benefit of business and Britain, I hope the business community will join the secretary of state for health, Alan Millburn, in insisting on best value for money so that every penny we invest in health ensures value for money.

And we hear you today when you argue for a budget for productivity.

Let me tell you how I plan to proceed.

Globalisation means that there is hardly a good we produce here in Britain that is not subject to intense competition from at home and abroad — competition not just from traditional competitors in the advanced industrial economies but competition from emerging market economies not least in Asia and the east of Europe — competition which is itself a spur to growth and prosperity.

Twenty years ago, even ten years ago, it was just about possible – if costly and wrong – for countries to shelter their industries and sectors, protecting them from global competition.

But today there is no safe haven, no easy escape from global competition without putting at risk long-term stability, growth and employment.

Because investment will flow most to those countries that are the most stable, and ever more rapidly away from those that risk stability, there is an even greater premium than before on governments running a stable and successful monetary and fiscal regime to achieve high and stable levels of growth and employment.

So in Britain I can assure you that stability will be maintained and entrenched.

Globalisation also describes a world whose very mobility of capital and openness to competition is ushering in a restructuring of industry and services across continents. And while emerging market countries are ready to attract low value added, low investment and low skilled work, we have to compete on ever higher levels of skill and technology rather than ever lower levels of poverty pay.

It is for this reason that in our recent spending review we decided to match new resources to major reforms in education, science and innovation.

But because high levels of productivity growth are essential to high levels of growth and employment, there is a third essential response to globalisation that distinguishes the successful high employment, high growth economies from the least successful – in an open harshly competitive economy we must be able to adapt continuously and quickly to change and this demands, at a regional and local level, a new flexibility in labour, capital and product markets.

Indeed the paradox of globalisation is that it puts more emphasis on the local

The more we are interdependent, and thus the more our regions face intense global competition, the more successful will be the regions and localities that have the flexibility to adapt to change.

And it is because production need no longer be based where the raw materials or ports are and producers can choose where they wish to locate that the regional economies that are the most flexible will be the magnets for inward investment, will retain their skilled people, will attract more to join them.

So you are right as chambers of commerce to seek a British economy

– founded on monetary and fiscal stability;

– built on high levels of investment and skills; but also driven forward by a new adaptability and flexibility where the local and the regional voice is not only respected but seen as critical to economic success.

Run by local business for local business, your chambers of commerce have always been at the forefront of the demand for vibrant local and regional economies.

Indeed your whole history as a movement has been to stress

– the importance of the local and the regional;

– that Britain has not one centre but many centres of initiative in our regions and localities;

– that our economy’s strengths comes through our economy’s diversity;

– that empowering the local and the regional makes sense not just for the good society but for the good economy too.

The old idea in regional policy was of help directed from the centre.

The first generation of regional policy, before the war, was essentially ambulance work getting help to high unemployment areas – central government providing first aid.

The second generation in the 1960s and 1970s was based on large capital and tax incentives delivered by the then Department of Industry and then overseen by Brussels

Both were inflexible and both were top-down.

You know better that anyone that Whitehall and Westminster alone will not close the gap between the regions of high unemployment and regions of low unemployment and that we cannot increase employment and prosperity in the north or midlands, in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland, just by passing laws and regulations in London.

So the third and new generation of regional economic policy measures seek to strengthen the indigenous sources of growth – local enterprise, local innovation, local infrastructure, local skills and the local labour market.

And the way forward for each region is local people making more decisions locally about meeting local economic needs.

I applaud your president for her involvement as a leading member of her local regional development agency – Advantage West Midlands – and I know many of you take an active interest in your RDA, your Learning and Skills Council and your local New Deal.

And we want to back up your efforts with new measures that can make a difference.

First enterprise itself.

In the UK just 5 per cent of adults think of starting a business, in the United States it is 11 per cent, so we have a long way to go.

And there are also large variations in the rates of business creation between areas of the UK.

When some areas have ten times the number of start-ups than others we know the effect of economic activity, confidence, jobs and prosperity

Small business corporation tax has been cut everywhere.

But to remove the barriers preventing firms from starting up and growing in our most deprived communities, we have designated 2000 new Enterprise Areas with new incentives

I can tell you that here we are cutting the cost of starting up, investing, employing, training, managing the payroll.

Here we are bringing together industry, planning, employment and social security policies to tackle local property market, capital market and labour market failures

We start with the abolition of stamp duty for business property and residential purchases

We cut the cost of investing with the new community investment tax relief

Here we are urging local authorities to relax planning regulations

—- government and business working together to bring investment, jobs and prosperity to areas that prosperity has still by passed.

And, from April 2003, in schemes in the East and West Midlands and the North West, the small business budget will be locally administered with the RDAs — improving the delivery, effectiveness and coordination of business support management at the regional level.

Take innovation.

Some regions spend 3.5 per cent of GDP on R & D but others just 0.5 per cent.

Yet every successful region must encourage its scientists its inventors and its innovators.

Our regional and local approach means we are already moving from centrally administered R and D policies to the encouragement of local technology transfer between universities and companies and the development of regional clusters of specialisms – encouraging the growth of the knowledge-based company and the business friendly university through:

New research and development tax credits for large and small businesses;

An extra £1.25 billion pound investment in science;

Capital investment in higher education research increased to £500 million a year by 2005;

And the new round of the higher education innovation fund encouraging the translation of research into business innovation.
But we can do more to encouraging the development of new local science and industry partnerships like the North West Science Council and the technium schemes in Wales — developing links between businesses, universities and other regional agencies to support the development of hi-tech industry clusters.

The Department of Trade and Industry is now consulting business on how we can improve the UK’s innovation performance and we have asked Richard Lambert, former editor of the Financial Times, to examine how business-university interaction can contribute to productivity growth – with both reviews reporting in late summer 2003.

But we must do more.

To reverse decades of under investment in our infrastructure the government will have invested nearly 2.8 billion pounds more in real terms in housing by 2006 and 6.7 billion a year more in transport. And through devolution to the regions, what we spend and how we spend on housing and transport is increasing decided regionally and locally – local people making local decisions about local needs.

And take planning. You know the delays, complexities and frustrations of the planning system.

So I hope you will welcome not just our attempts to change the planning culture and make it more responsive to your needs but our proposal for business planning districts where detailed permissions are relaxed.

Now in skills too we are moving from a national one size fits all approach by devolving 90 per cent of the learning and skills budget devolved to promote regional excellence.

The more skilled men and women there are and the more they are willing to develop new skills, the more flexible and productive the economy is likely to be. And the more globalisation opens up the world economy to fierce competition across continents the more competitive advantage countries like Britain will gain from a higher level of skills

Yet despite our successes at university and college level, skills – particularly in basic and intermediate qualifications – are Britain’s Achilles heel —- the most worrying inflexibility of all within our labour market.

So Charles Clarke the Education Secretary is right to forge a new partnership between government, employee and employer with a view to expanding our skills and making labour markets work more flexibly.

We are expanding the employer training pilots now operating in six areas to around a quarter of the country — offering incentives for firms to give their staff paid time off to train towards basic skills and NVQ level 2 qualifications.

From April, we are piloting devolved pooled budgets for adult learning in four areas of the country

And looking to the workforce of the future we are not only investing to improve standards in schools but, through the work of the national modern apprenticeship taskforce, examining how to increase participation in modern apprenticeships and engage employers – particularly those running small businesses – more fully in the programme.

And we need to extend our approach of encouraging regional and local initiatives from R and D, skills, small business, transport and housing policies to the critical area of employment and welfare policy

Without the New Deal – in which so many of you here today have played your part – youth long term unemployment would be twice as high. And today inflows to jobseekers allowance are at their lowest since records began.

But after six years of a national programme I am more convinced than ever that if we are to get more of the long term unemployed back to work, and more successfully fill local vacancies we need to match our national framework of incentives and sanctions with more local discretion and flexibility.

So it makes sense for job centres to develop programmes more sensitive to, and tailor made for, local and regional conditions and to have greater local powers and new resources to match vacancies to jobs more quickly, to meet local employment and skills needs and of course to stop too many long term unemployed and young people falling through the net.

So we should consider extending the areas of job search for the newly unemployed and as we combine flexibility with help for people coping with change we are prepared to do more help with initial transport costs and other costs the unemployed incur in returning to work. At all time insisting that new opportunities to obtain jobs are matched by new responsibilities to take the jobs on offer. And side by side with a more regional approach to employment, a more considered approach to local and regional conditions in pay also makes sense.

So a new agenda opens up for each locality and region in our country – as we invest locally in enterprise, infrastructure, innovation, skills and employment opportunity

I said that building ever more successful communities and regions depends on the innovation, creativity and involvement of businessmen and women like yourselves across the country:

The leadership and vision you demonstrate;

The growth and innovation you achieve;

The new technology that you develop;

The new markets you identify and create;

The needs of consumers that you meet.

And the jobs and wealth you create

By disseminating the lessons learned from the most successful businesses – your skills, your innovations, your achievements – throughout the business community and beyond we can go further and help inspire the business leaders of the future.

I believe even the highest unemployment community can over time become an enterprising community.

And creating that entrepreneurial culture which matters so much to the future of Britain cannot be achieved without success in the boardroom but can only be achieved by starting in the classroom.

Exciting changes are taking place across the country.

When I was at school no business was ever invited in.

And the world of education was remote form the world of commerce

Now hundreds of thousands of secondary school children and now thousands of primary school children are getting introduced to business and commerce in the schools

I know the British Chambers of Commerce will join us in our attempts to give every pupil the opportunity not just of work experience but of enterprise education in our schools

I believe our country will be a stronger more successful nation when once again young people see you, our local business leaders, as role models for what they aspire to and want to achieve in the future.

In this way, business and government working together, I know we can tap the immense skill and entrepreneurial talent and potential that exists to build a Britain where no one and no community is left behind and where there is opportunity and prosperity for all.

Once again in every locality and region the chambers of commerce are leading the way.

And starting from the economic stability, the low inflation, low debt and sound public finances I am pledged to deliver, I look forward to continuing to work with you as we build the Britain you want: not just a Britain of opportunity for all but a Britain of prosperity for all.

Gordon Brown – 2003 Speech at Robert Gordon University


Below is the text of the speech made by Gordon Brown, the then Chancellor of the Exchequer, at Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen, on 17 April 2003.

It is a great pleasure to be here in Aberdeen today to celebrate the opening of your new faculty of health and social care – providing hi-tech facilities to train the nurses, doctors, radiographers, physiotherapists and social workers of tomorrow.

With the completion of this new state of the art faculty and the expansion of your teaching, learning and research facilities, Robert Gordon University is entering a new era. And I want to congratulate this university – which has advanced confidently from school to technical college to institute of technology to university – on its quality, diversity and its growing importance as a centre of knowledge, ideas and technological expertise for the Scottish economy.

Everywhere I travel in Britain and beyond I can be proud of Aberdeen – not just the granite that built the terrace of the House of Commons where I work and the 640,000 tonnes of Aberdeen granite that went into the Forth Bridge a minute or two from where I live, but the contribution that the people of Aberdeen make in so many areas – not least from an outstanding record in making the most of North Sea oil for Britain – to our prosperity.

And it is a privilege to be speaking here at a time when, despite a downturn in the world economy, in which two million jobs have been lost in America, 53,000 more Scottish men and women have moved into jobs in the last year – clearly demonstrating the importance of Scotland to the whole of the British economy.

And it is a particular pleasure to be in Aberdeen because here at Robert Gordon University the people of Scotland are putting their faith in the future by investing heavily in its great educational facilities.

In 1997 our two first decisions as a government were to make the Bank of England independent to achieve economic stability and to recognise that the countries that will succeed in the modern world will succeed not by taking a low road of low tech, low skills, low wage competition but a high road of high skills, high technology, high valued added investment and that we must therefore invest in science and skills.

So as companies scour the world for new ideas, the high quality science and skills that are the mission of ambitious educational institutions like Robert Gordon are the assets on which future growth depends.

There have been three eras of regional policy in the United Kingdom.

The first generation of regional policy – from the 1930s – was simply first aid for depressed areas.

The second generation of regional policy – from the 1960s – consisted of large incentives to attract inward investment.

Now, instead of simply relying on others to invest in our country, Britain is advancing to the third generation of regional policy – a policy that combines the encouragement of inward investment with the encouragement of indigenous companies through developing Scotland’s own science and skills strategies. And universities like Robert Gordon that concentrate on skills and science are absolutely pivotal to its success.

Recognising that our prosperity is driven by productivity – and productivity driven by innovation, enterprise, competition – the commercial exploitation of knowledge – Scotland’s first intermediate technology institute is rightly being launched here in Aberdeen – a joint project between Robert Gordon and Aberdeen University which aims to strengthen links between the universities and local business; encourage the development of high growth, hi-tech energy companies; and significantly increase the level of business research and development right across Scotland.

The intermediate technology institute is one of three, part of a £450 million investment in the future of the Scottish economy designed to create and grow new hi-tech companies for the future .

I hope that by abolishing royalty payments from the North Sea I have helped the North Sea industry make its future investments .

Last week in the budget I was also able to abolish the petroleum revenue tax on new tariffing business in the North Sea.

And alongside these new tax incentives the new investment at Robert Gordon makes Britain a world leader in the development of energy. It is Scotland competing for the future on the best basis – on high skills not low pay.

And backing up our intermediate technology institutes are

Across the UK:

· An extra £1.25 billion pounds invested in science

· New research and development tax credits for large and small businesses – which are now being even further improved;

And in Scotland:

· The £33 million pound “proof of concept fund” – encouraging the translation of research into business innovation

· Enterprise fellowships – helping young research fellows take the step from academia to business by providing financial support and tailored advice

· And the “smart Scotland” and “spur” schemes – supporting small businesses as they develop new, innovative and commercially viable products.

Our future demands we sponsor not just a science revolution but also a skills revolution.

Because nobody wishes Britain to compete on the basis of low pay but on high skills, the right to the highest quality of education to 16 must be complemented by the right to the highest quality of lifelong learning: a classic case of social justice building economic strength.

I believe a quiet revolution is taking place transforming the chances of young people to gain the skills they need.

When I went to university, less than 10 per cent of my age group did.

Look at what is happening now here in Scotland.

Even ten years ago just 40 per cent of teenagers were in full time education.

Today the figure is 55 per cent of 16 to 19 year-olds.

And added to that as the modern apprenticeship scheme takes root 13 per cent of 16 to 18 year olds – over 20,000 – are taking part in modern apprenticeships – compared to just 5,000 in 1997.

And as we help all young people gain skills and jobs the new deal – which John Milligan, Chairman of the Scottish Welfare to Work Taskforce, leads in Scotland – has, since 1997, offered hope to 100,000 young people in Scotland with nearly 50,000 moving into jobs.

Long term youth unemployment – once 40,000 – is now just 282.

And now having already raised lone parent employment in Scotland from a minority of lone parents in work to a majority, we will soon be working with companies to pioneer in Glasgow a multi-million pound new initiative that will help hundreds more lone parents gain the skills and confidence to take up work. Many lone parents will be £50 – £100 a week better off in work.

But there is a great deal more to do.

In all nearly one million Scottish adults in the workforce lack basic qualifications.

Despite educational progress 14 per cent of today’s 16 to 19 year olds – 35,000 young people – are not in work or in full time education or training.

And every summer more than 3,000 young people leave school with no educational qualification to show for their 11 years at primary and secondary school

That’s why, as in England, the Scottish Executive is rolling out educational maintenance allowances from next year -providing young people from poorer families with up to £1,500 a year to encourage them to stay on at school and get the qualifications they need.

That’s why we’ve made record investments in our schools and colleges: by 2006 a 66 per cent increase in funding for the Scottish Executive’s education and young people’s budget and a 50 per cent increase in further education funding and more than 40,000 more college places.

Apprenticeships, once withering away, will rise by 2006 to nearly 30,000 across Scotland.

So within our grasp is the realisation of the vision, central to Scottish education for more than a century and to the aspirations of this institution’s founders, that every young person leaving school should either be in work with training or able to go to college or university.

Our future depends on the encouragement of science and skills but also the encouragement of enterprise, again a central feature of this institution’s history.

But when small business creation rates in the poorest areas of Scotland are almost one quarter of the most prosperous, we know we must do more

The chance to start a business should not depend on your background, contacts or just luck. In every area of Scotland I want the enterprising to go as far as their talents and potential can take them.

So in the Budget earlier this month I announced new incentives for small business creation in the 130 most deprived places in Scotland:

· To cut the cost of property purchase, stamp duty abolished

· To cut the cost of initial investment, the prospect of enhanced capital allowances

· To cut the cost of risk capital, the community investment tax relief and proposals for a community venture capital fund.

In this way, we are bringing businesses and jobs based on science and skills to Scotland’s unemployment blackspots and poorest communities – and demonstrating the choice between our vision of a high skill, high investment, high productivity, full employment economy against what I see as plans from others that would put at risk economic and political stability and threaten employment.

And we’re also preparing for the future by doing more to bring schools and businesses closer together.

It is important that every young person across the country gets the chance to find out what business and enterprise are all about.

When I was at school, businessmen and women rarely visited schools and school pupils seldom went for work experience to business firms

The world of business was remote from the world of education.

I remember a visit from the national coal board…but I cannot remember a private businessman or executive or manager visiting our classrooms.

Today, things are changing. A quiet transformation in links between schools and business is starting to take shape. And I congratulate John Milligan for his groundbreaking Aberdeen schools partnership.

Under the leadership of Tom Hunter, Chris van der Kuyl and Iain Gray, the Scottish Executive is working with Scottish businessmen and women to ensure that Scottish children enjoy “education for the world of work” at not just secondary schools but in primary schools too.

Soon every pupil in Scotland will be given the chance to gain an insight into business and entrepreneurship before they leave school.

And a key element in the Scottish plan is encouraging universities and business to work together through the Scottish Institute for Enterprise.

The aim is to create a Scottish culture of entrepreneurship from the classroom to the boardroom.

I want every young person to hear about business and enterprise in school; I want every college student to be made aware of the opportunities in business, even to start a business; and every teacher to be able to communicate the virtues of business and enterprise.

In this way, working together, we can build a new enterprise culture where enterprise is truly open to all.

So, as I thank you for inviting me here today and for awarding me an honorary degree , let me congratulate you . Over the last few years, Robert Gordon University has gone from strength to strength – providing high quality teaching and research, and generating ever-increasing benefits for the businesses in the surrounding community – and I know that this energy, coupled with the wonderful new facilities opened today, will ensure it continues to thrive for years to come.

Gordon Brown – 2003 Speech at CBI Annual Dinner


Below is the text of the speech made by Gordon Brown, the then Chancellor of the Exchequer, at the CBI Annual Dinner on 20 May 2003.

I am delighted to speak to the CBI Annual Dinner.

To pay tribute to the contribution you as Britain’s business leaders make to our economy.

And say that it is a privilege to work with you, both individually and through the CBI, as together we build, for our country, a stronger foundation of economic stability, we increase employment, champion enterprise and enhance Britain’s competitive and trading position round the world.

The context for my remarks this evening is the changing global economy.

Today Britain is challenged not just by the short-term cyclical changes in the global economy but by an ongoing, long-term restructuring of global industry and services, and it is our duty to work with you to remove all the barriers to enterprise, productivity and growth.

That is why in the recent Budget and next Budget our focus will be on flexibility:

– continuing reforms of capital gains tax and corporate tax to encourage and reward investment;

– new help for small and medium sized companies seeking to invest and innovate;

– further reforms to reduce planning delays and expand the highly skilled migrant programme;

– improvements to the R&D tax credit to make our R&D incentive the best in the world;

– permanent capital allowances that are of particular help to manufacturing;

– continuing partnership with business in our successful Private Finance Initiative;

– and new measures to improve skills with an extension in the already successful employer training pilots —- showing enterprise and fairness advance together.

These reforms reflect the modern role of government – that we should work with business to break down the barriers to enterprise so that we can ensure that men and women with ideas have access to the finance, technology, advice and skills they need to transform their insights and initiative into business success. And in our reform and modernisation of our health, education and public services we – as a Government – wish to draw upon your business expertise.

At each point, it is the duty of government to ask: what does Britain need?

I believe it is a government with the strength to take the right long-term decisions for the long-term national economic interest of Britain.

And, as I have said on each occasion we have met, what matters most is to ensure the right long-term decisions on stability.

And this is more important than ever at a time of global uncertainty.

I understand how major international companies are hit by the sharpness of the contraction in world trade growth. And I understand the impact on business investment intentions of the first simultaneous world slowdown for thirty years.

Recent events have demonstrated once again that in a global economy there is a premium on monetary and fiscal stability.

And it is because you and I have understood that monetary and fiscal regimes must work to create stability in challenging times as well as good times that — with the independence of the Bank of England, our fiscal rules to put public finances in a sustainable position and tough decisions in 1997 on deficit and debt reduction — we sought to ensure that Britain – with the longest period of sustained low inflation since the 1950s and the lowest interest rates for thirty five years – is better placed than we have been in the past to deal with economic challenges and ongoing risks.

In the last few months we have remained vigilant as a hesitant global recovery has been stalled, the oil price has fluctuated widely, world trade growth has been slow and, partly because of all the political uncertainties, global equity markets have fallen.

And I am confident that, tested in adversity, our monetary and fiscal regime built around the Bank of England is demonstrating its credibility and resilience. And I can assure you that nothing will be done in future that puts that basic stability at risk.

But I now believe the world economy is ready to move forward. I have just returned from meeting my colleagues in the G7 and it is our view that with inflation low, geopolitical uncertainty now lessening, with the oil price coming down and with action over corporate standards, the previous impediments to growth are being removed.

And not just in Britain but in the euro area a modern route to economic stability is being sought — based on a shared recognition that the old fine-tuning cannot work, that in liberalised markets rigid monetary targets cannot on their own deliver stability and that the discretion necessary for effective economic policy is possible only within a framework that commands public and market credibility.

And there is, I believe, also a growing understanding that this credibility depends upon clearly defined and publicly understood long-term policy objectives.

So just as we in Britain are examining how we advance, the European Central Bank has been reviewing its monetary policy strategy and European governments are rightly also looking at how the Stability and Growth Pact can work most effectively.

The prize is regimes that are able to respond proactively and appropriately when world economic circumstances change.

The test for any government at any time, but particularly at times of challenge, is whether they have the strength to take the tough decisions in the long-term interests of the country rather than opting for the short-term quick fix.

When we came into power many in my Party thought it wrong to make the Bank of England independent, set an inflation target of 2.5 per cent and separate monetary decisions from fiscal decisions.

And having had the strength as a Government to reject the short-term attraction of retaining decision making over interest rates and make that long-term decision, most now agree Bank independence was right for the long-term national economic interest of the country.

When we came to power many also objected when the Government said that to cut debt and achieve fiscal discipline we had to freeze public spending for two years.

But having had the strength as a government to reject the short term temptation to meet pent up demands for more spending and having made that long term decision, most now agree it was right in our long term national economic interest.

And, in the same way, we will have the strength to reject short term or quick fix options and we will make the right long term decisions on Europe.

So we will reject the view of those who would rule out membership of the single currency even if it were in the national economic interest to join.

Ruling out membership on grounds of dogma not economics would in my view be damaging for investment, jobs and business.

But we similarly reject those who would urge us to join irrespective of the rigorous assessment of the five tests that define the long-term national economic interest.

I believe that membership of the euro can bring clear benefits to Britain in trade, investment and growth – benefits to British business, consumers and jobs. And our assessment will set them out.

But I also know that to repeat the ERM mistake and take risks with stability is not in the national economic interest.

So if, based on the five tests assessment, the economics are right we should join. If the economics are not right, we should not.

And it is only by showing that at all times we advance the national economic interest that I believe we can build the pro-European consensus that has eluded Britain for so long – a consensus that is essential for Britain if we are to play the effective role we want in Europe and the global economy.

For we know that around not just the euro but around the future of Europe as a whole there is an ongoing debate.

And I believe we can build a consensus in Britain about Britain’s future in Europe as we also build a consensus in Europe about how, together, we equip ourselves to succeed in the global economy.

Indeed, all the policy questions of enlargement, economic reform, the European convention, Europe’s trading relationships revolve around one central question: how Europe adjusts to the challenge of delivering stability and prosperity in a global economy.

Two decades ago the authors of the single market and the single currency rightly believed that the nation state was, and would be increasingly, too small for all the big economic issues confronting us all.

Yet a great deal has changed since the single market and single currency were first conceived.

Those who in the 1980s thought that we would move from being economically integrated at a British level to being economically integrated at a European level have only been partially right as, increasingly we become integrated not just at a European level but at a global level.

So instead of seeing Europe as a trade bloc sheltered from the rest of the world, with a focus almost exclusively on its internal markets and agriculture, our policy decisions for Europe must now be made in this new context: an ever more open and extensive globalisation in which Europe looks outwards and the countries that will do best are the countries that are flexible, open and outward looking.

This is of huge significance to the kind of Europe we need and the role Britain can play.

Adjusting to globalisation is why, as I will show, the debate in Europe has moved to economic reform – how Europe adapts to a more intensely competitive global economy – and how even the debate on tax has moved from harmonising internal rates to tax competition – being competitive in a global economy.

So the new debate about Europe’s future is no longer – as it was in the 1980s – how a single trade bloc organises its internal markets, independent of the rest of the world, but how all of Europe, thinking globally, can be outward looking, meet global competition and reform to do so – and thus benefit from global change.

And this allows Britain to enter a new and more positive stage of its relationship with the rest of Europe.

There have been three phases in Britain’s economic relationship with Europe since 1945:

– the period until the 1970s when as the British empire we defined our national interest as being at a distance from Europe;

– the period of membership from the early 1970s when no consensus over Europe was ever fully cemented;

– the period after the Berlin wall fell when all nations were redefining their post cold war role in the world and for a time Britain tried to define itself as being anti-European.

Yet Britain is part of Europe by history, by geography and by economics.

And I believe that Britain can be a leader in Europe as Europe equips itself for the challenges of globalisation.

First, Britain was the champion of the European single market from the 1980s onwards. Now we stand ready to lead its intensification to benefit from the new wave of globalisation.

In Europe there is now a growing consensus on the need to complete and extend the single market and the more Europe extends its single market the better it is for Britain and Europe.

Second, in the 19th century Britain pioneered free and open trade round the world. Now we stand ready to help Europe look outwards to the trading opportunities of the global economy.

In Europe there is again a growing consensus on the need to strike new trade arrangements in the WTO and with our trading partners, not least America. The more Europe and America work closely together the better it is for Britain, Europe and the world.

Third, Britain, with greater employment flexibility, is leading in the creation of jobs – 1.5 million jobs since 1997 – and our policies to enhance opportunities, matching flexibility with fairness, are the right ones for Europe’s future.

And the more Europe puts job enhancement at the centre of its social dimension the better it is for Britain and Europe.

In other words, Europe will best maximise the benefits of the new challenges of globalisation – and solve its problems of low growth and high unemployment – by creating a flexible, outward looking Europe.

So British ideas can play a pivotal leadership role. In particular:

– that in a global economy Europe must be open and outward looking and not protectionist;

– that we must step up the pace of economic reform to create a more flexible Europe;

– that, in a modern economy, enterprise and flexibility need not advance at the cost of fairness but can advance together;
and that constitutional arrangements must evolve to meet real challenges and be open and accountable.

Let me sketch out the policy changes that follow.

Since 1992, the single market has produced a gain equivalent to £4000 for every household in Europe. Goods now move freely across Europe, whereas before 1992 internal customs borders meant around 90 million forms were filled in each year, a massive burden on businesses and individuals. In telecommunications, for example, the average price of calls has dropped since 1996 by around 30 per cent for businesses and 16 per cent for households.

But while the single market encompasses 375 million people today – and potentially nearly 500 million in the future – we have still a long way to go to secure for British business and British consumers the full benefits in commercial opportunities and consumer prices.

While in 1988 Cecchini estimated that single market liberalisation would add 4.5 per cent to Europe’s GDP, cut prices by 6 per cent and increase employment by 1.75 million, many of the gains have yet to materialise. And the single market is often more honoured in rhetoric than in reality.

To ensure well informed and open markets that ensure capital flows to productive uses and that labour and capital are used efficiently, we favour:

– a more proactive EU competition regime with investigations into particular European markets and sectors to drive up competition and prevent firms across Europe from being excluded from European markets from energy to telecommunications;
making the single market a reality for services as well as goods;
faster progress towards the integration of European capital markets; and support for Private Finance Initiatives in Europe.
So Britain – the champion of the European single market from the 1980s onwards – stands ready to lead its intensification to benefit from the new wave of globalisation.

But the single market neither requires tax harmonisation nor centrally imposed one-size-fits-all regulations.

Instead, building on minimum agreed standards and learning from the USA single currency area, tax competition and the mutual recognition of each others regulations is the best way forward for Europe.

Second, a Europe reformed is a Europe that can be the engine of liberalisation in the world.

But that requires us to tackle Europe’s most protected and distorted sector – agriculture – which could give rise to economic benefits of around 5 billion euros across the EU, as well as benefiting developing countries.

And it requires Europe to champion free trade.

In the 19th century Britain pioneered free and open trade round the world.

Today we must be pioneers again.

And in a new global environment where all the arguments for the benefits of free and open trade are now more pressing than ever before, but where political resistance is strong, we must stand firm.

Europe must take far more seriously the need for urgent progress in the Doha trade discussions. We should lead in the World Trade Organisation – not lag behind.

And we should also lead by example. The transatlantic economic relationship accounts for up to $2.5 trillion of commercial transactions each year, including $500 billions of foreign trade, and provides employment to over 12 million people. We should not allow trade disputes to continue interfering with such vital parts of our economies.

Instead, Europe and America should patch up their trade differences, move beyond the day-to-day issues and make a greater effort to tackle the barriers to a fully open trading and investment relationship, strengthen joint arrangements to tackle competition issues and engage in dialogue about the approach to financial services regulation.

We are about to publish and submit to the European Commission the results of a new study showing that if we broke down the tariff barriers and the barriers to trade in services Europe could increase employment by 1 million, raise growth by up to 2 per cent in Europe and up to 1 per cent in America.

So with trade vital to our programme for full employment we must now develop new areas for transatlantic cooperation and as a first step I believe the US administration and the EU Commission should work with the UK and other Member States to produce a detailed analysis of the benefits of greater trade and investment liberalisation.

The prize of being partners not rivals, rather than “Fortress Europe” versus “Fortress NAFTA”, is that each of us stand to gain much more from globalisation.

And all this puts Britain right at the heart of Europe — pressing for the greater competition and liberalisation that is essential to attain full employment and prosperity for all.

Third, Britain’s proposals for labour market flexibility.

Europe has not been very good at facing up to the flexibility issue. Some still see the term ‘flexibility’ as the abandonment of all minimum standards, the race to the bottom, low wage competition legitimised.

In the past, supporters of full employment have not been in the habit of thinking of flexibility as a route to full employment. And supporters of greater flexibility in our economy have seldom described its benefits as the attainment of full employment.

Yet today flexible economies are also the economies with higher employment.

And to get Europe’s 13 million unemployed back to work, we must move beyond the old style jobs policies and attitudes. It is right both to create flexible labour markets and to equip people to master change – through investment in skills and training, through the best transitional help for people moving between jobs, and through the operation of a minimum wage and a tax credit system, tailored in each member state to national circumstances. And we will resist inflexible barriers being introduced into directives like the European Working Time Directive – we will support flexible interpretations of existing rules and remove unnecessary regulations and restrictions

Instead of viewing flexibility as the enemy of full employment, we should persuade employers that the right kind of flexibility in European as well as British labour markets is essential for jobs.

So some say Europe can never reform. I reject this. Europe has a choice and I believe as the supporters of reform grow so too the pressures for reform grow.

Some say countries must make a choice between the US and Europe. I reject this. Europe needs an outward-looking non-isolationist America and America needs an outward-looking non-parochial Europe.

Some say Europe should harmonise taxation and move towards a super state. Again Europe has a choice and I believe that support for a flexible outward looking Europe is growing and will grow.

Indeed, I believe that British values – in particular our long term commitment to enterprise, opportunity, being outward looking and open to the world, and of course demanding political accountability – can make a distinctive contribution to the development of this new Europe.

The single market… new trading arrangements with America and the world… a new labour market flexibility that is the social dimension for Europe.

And as the great debate on Europe’s future begins, we can build a consensus around a reformed Europe — and Britain leading reform in Europe.

Put simply, a more self confident Britain and a more self confident Europe can become an engine for economic and social progress on the global stage —- not as a rival of the USA or other trade blocs but as a partner. Proof of the view, pioneer of the vision that economic success and social justice can advance together.

And in this new era where Europe is now seeing that it must not be an inward looking trade bloc but part of the global economy, we can, I believe, persuade the British people not just to a half-hearted acquiescence in Europe but a whole hearted engagement with Europe – a positive engagement grounded in a self confidence about British values and Britain’s future, and the important role they can play in the next stage of Europe’s development, the response to the latest wave of globalisation.

So where does that put Britain’s relationship in Europe?

To lead this way in Europe, we must be ready to put aside the soul-searching that has been so much a part of Britain’s post-war history.

While Britain’s relationship with Europe has neither been nor will ever be exclusive nor dogmatic, the experience of the first half of last century – in two World Wars – showed Britain did not and would not relinquish our role in Europe or abdicate responsibility for the progress of the continent.

And in the years ahead Britain will do best if we seek a leadership role in Europe.

So we should give short shrift to the view that being British means we must be anti-European.

Of course the nation state is and will remain the focus of our British identity and our loyalty.

It is entirely right that the test of whether we want to be part of any future European venture is whether it is good for Britain’s national interest. That is why we reject federalism.

So as the European convention draws to the end of its work in advance of the forthcoming IGC, I believe that it is through a close constructive relationship with our European partners – and the economic agenda I set down that moves us towards a flexible, outward looking, full employment Europe – that Britain will not only enjoy greater prosperity but continue to make a positive contribution on the world stage.

Being in and shaping Europe allows us to contribute what is uniquely British to the development of the European union and the changes in its economy that are now more urgent than ever.

So to those who say that the future means Britain submerged in Europe, I say emphasising British values – our commitment to enterprise, opportunity, being outward looking and to proper accountability – and their importance to Europe’s development will benefit both Britain and Europe.

Leading – the right way to express British identity and interest in the modern world – means a serious agenda for reform. And for Europe.

The aim: a continent much more open, more competitive, more flexible and adaptable, more fair, and more outward looking ready to play its full and proper role in global society.