Damian Green – 2004 Speech on British Hauliers

Below is the text of the speech made by Damian Green to the Road Haulage Association’s Spring Conference in Portugal on 21 May 2004.

“I was struck in my early weeks in this job that, for politicians, too often transport consists entirely of the railways, when rail provides only 6% of the journeys taken, and for most people road transport is much more important in their lives. All politicians are obsessed by polls, and it is instructive that MORI, in their regular polls about public attitudes to the parties in relation to the big permanent political issues, only ask about the parties’ policies towards public transport—no mention of roads and motoring. So I want to take a balanced and unemotional approach to transport planning.

Having said which, of course rail and bus policies are vital. If we don’t get the railways right, for freight as well as passengers, then increasing numbers of people will take to their cars, or their trucks, in despair, adding to the congestion we all suffer from. John Prescott notoriously said “I will have failed if in five years time there are not fewer journeys by car.” Well traffic is up 7%, and motorway congestion is up 250%. So you can’t make our roads more effective without making the railways more effective as well.

So with that as the background I want to set out three principles which will act the basis for our policies.

First, Governments should give people genuine choice about the mode of transport they choose.

Secondly, Long-term transport success will come from steady and predictable investment policies, sheltered from incessant political interference.

Thirdly, The necessary investment levels will require private sector money, and this is as important for roads as it is for railways.

Those are our guiding principles. What do they mean in policy terms? Indeed, what do they mean for your industry and its reliance on the road network. My basic pitch is that the Government should call off its war on the motorist—not least because making driving miserable for private motorists also inevitably means making it miserable for commercial motorists—including all of your drivers.

We have already made some proposals, including an audit of the positioning of speed cameras to make it clear that every one is contributing to road safety and not just acting as a silent tax collector for the Chancellor. We believe speed limits should be revisited, with higher maximum speeds possible on motorways and lower speeds necessary on some other roads.

All of these ideas are designed to make our roads flow more freely, so that no one is holding up your trucks unnecessarily, and that your trucks are not holding up other drivers unnecessarily.

Our second principle, recommending steady investment, is designed to avoid the stop-start nature of big transport investment in Britain. You will all have seen the full page adverts in papers this week arguing for more and better transport investment—the RHA was one of the bodies placing them. They laid particular emphasis on the most serious pinch points: the M1, the M4 near London, the M6 north of Birmingham, the M62 and the M25. And it is very often schemes to relieve these bottlenecks that take an age to come to fruition. There will always be planning issues, and genuine environmental issues, which cause delays. But what is most frustrating is that such schemes are often delayed further after we have gone through all the planning delays, because the Government finances of the day don’t permit large-scale blocks of extra expenditure. It applies on the roads, it’s applying to the Crossrail Scheme in London at the moment.

This is where our third principle comes in; that if we are to have a steady, well-planned flow of big transport projects, we will need to use private money more than in the past. The details of this are being worked on at the moment, and we will be coming out with announcements later this year, but I am absolutely convinced that unless we change our attitude towards the use of the private sector in building, operating and maintaining roads, we will keep suffering the same problems.

For more than 50 years, under every type of Government and through good economic times and bad, our road system has been inadequate. There is no sign that this is changing. The last progress report on the Government’s Ten Year Plan said that although we were promised less congestion when it was launched in 2000, supply chains will have to cope with growing congestion and unreliability. So even under a government that is committed to taxing and spending, the current system shows no sign of improvement. The figures are depressing. The Ten-Year Plan promised a 5% reduction in inter urban congestion, and an 8% reduction in large urban areas. The result has been a predicted increase in journey times of 30% by 2010.

The solution won’t be a single magic bullet. We will need to use our roads, especially in urban areas, more intelligently—using some of the methods I spoke about earlier. We will need more by-passes. We will need more dualling, and possibly more motorway routes. To fund these new roads, we will need more private finance.

So we need a complete change in the way we deal with transport policy. It is obvious that the life-cycle of any particular big transport project is very likely to be longer than one particular Parliament, or of one particular Party’s period in power. We need to be grown up about this. In particular we need to set up funding systems so that the temptation for new Governments or new Ministers to drop existing ideas in favour of their own pet projects is minimised.

So those are the principles. Let me turn now to the specific issue of fuel prices. No one expects the British Government to be in complete control of the oil price. But what the British Government can control is the level of fuel taxes. The Conservative Party voted against Gordon Brown’s increase of 1.9p a litre which he is due to bring in this September. At Prime Minister’s questions this week, shortly before we were all interrupted by noises off and powder on, Michael Howard asked the Prime Minister whether he would reverse this increase. There was a good deal of bluster but no answer. So we have to wait and see what the Government will do. But let me put on the record once and for all that we think this extra imposition should not happen.

On over-regulation Europe, and specifically the Working Time Directive, I am conscious that later this morning you will be hearing from Philip Bushill-Matthews, my colleague from the European Parliament, and I don’t want to tread too hard on his territory. Apart from anything else, it is bad enough to have to cope with European Directives without having to listen to two different speeches about them in the course of one morning.

So I will simply set out the main lines of our proposals. We want to get rid of at least a quarter of all existing EU regulations and directives and introduce sunset clauses for new ones. And by this we mean 25% of the total number of regulations and directives, not just a quarter of the pages in the current Acquis, which is the limit of the Commission’s ambition.

Now you will have heard politicians talk about the desirability of deregulation before. And it’s just possible you may be a little cynical. It’s even possible that I would not blame you for being cynical. You need to know how we would do it. So here goes. There are five points.

· We want a designated Commissioner with explicit responsibility for meeting deregulation targets.

· We will use the confirmation hearings for new Commissioners this autumn to test their individual commitments to the deregulation agenda

· We will use the European Parliament better for the deregulation agenda by initiating pre-legislative scrutiny of legislation, and the impact on competitiveness made explicit in every proposal.

· We would introduce the right of repeal of legislation to the European Parliament, which would mean the Commission would lose its exclusive right to delete existing laws.

· We would allow national parliaments to block proposed legislation if the thought it infringed the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality.

So these are practical measures which my colleagues in the European Parliament will pursue, and the more of them we elect on June 10th the more likely they are to be effective.

Moving on to one of the worst accusations against British Governments, Are they guilty of gold plating European Regulations? Yes they are. Gold plating is a very difficult concept to pin down, but it often means simply making a regulation more detailed and prescriptive in English law than it was when it left Brussels. One way of measuring this is the simple number of words used to transpose a directive into the country’s own legal document. On this basis, the UK adds a staggering two and third times as many words to the average regulation as it had in the original. This is much more than France, and overwhelmingly more than Portugal and Germany, the three countries where these comparisons have been made.

Changing this requires a change in the culture of Whitehall, which will only come about from a Government committed to deregulation as a central part of its economic thinking. The next Conservative Government will do that.

Moving briefly onto the Working Time Directive, our desired outcome when we were considering it was the minimum amount of regulation compatible with safety and reasonable comfort. I urged the Government to lobby for extending the reference period over which average working time is calculated. I agreed that a 17-week reference period would be too short, and would damage businesses that have a seasonal focus.

There has been much progress in the past few weeks. The six-month reference period for calculating the average week is an improvement. So is the definition of night time working. But I still think the omission of a definition of periods of availability is worrying. I hope it simply means that the Department is trying its best to find a definition that will be most helpful to those trying to run a business in difficult circumstances. I know there is a strong case for saying that driving time should be the key measure, and I would be interested to hear your views on this.

As a final specific point I should address the vexed subject of Road User Charging for lorries. It is good to know, looking at the Austrian example, that this kind of system can be made to work technically, especially when you look over the border at Germany and their problems. And certainly the current situation when British hauliers are put at a competitive disadvantage to other European companies by our own Government because of our fuel duties is neither sensible nor sustainable.

But the Chancellor’s latest delay in implementation means that the original idea, that UK hauliers deserved a more level playing field, has been forgotten until 2008 at the earliest. I know that many of you believe that the level playing field argument was always a convenient front for introducing technology that would lead to all-out road pricing. That may be true.

What is beyond argument is that we should be looking for other ways of levelling the playing field between now and 2008, if it can be done in a revenue-neutral way. I have been investigating thoughts of charging lorries that come into Britain on the basis of the mileage used when they are using our roads. So far, all the schemes I have looked at would be effective, but would also be illegal under competition law. So I am still searching. I am sure that many of you will be able to help me in this quest, and I am very receptive. UK hauliers deserve a better deal than the one they currently get from the Government, and I want to work with you all to make sure they receive it.

One last observation on the Ten Year Plan as a whole. It was, frankly, over-hyped as a solution to our transport problems. The slow progress of the Multi-Modal studies has meant that the implementation of specific road improvements has remained a weak area in the plan. Congestion charging seems to create at least as many problems as it solves. Rail planning is back in the melting pot. Tax incentives for cleaner vehicles are offered with one hand and taken away with the other.

So the degree of certainty that many people in your industry hoped for when the Plan was unveiled has not happened. There is an alternative vision, where politicians step back from the detail of industrial planning and set the framework for companies and individuals to make their own decisions. That is the vision that I and my colleagues are developing, and I am sure that it can contribute to the long-term health of our the road haulage industry—an industry which itself is absolutely essential to the long-term health of our economy.

Theresa May – 2004 Press Release on Family Needs

Below is the text of a press release issued by Theresa May, the then Shadow Secretary of State for the Family, on 24 August 2004.

Labour’s plans to improve access arrangements for children whose parents split up will prove to be a big disappointment, Theresa May has warned.

The Shadow Secretary for the Family accused Government ministers of “papering over the cracks” rather than addressing the real problems at the heart of Britain’s family justice system.

In a Green Paper being published by the Department for Constitutional Affairs, Labour is seeking to encourage separated parents to embark on a mediation process to find agreement on access and control over their children, rather than going to court. However, the Government has rejected the idea that parents should be guaranteed 50-50 access to their children, claiming that offspring cannot be divided up “like property” after a marriage founders.

Commenting on the proposals, Mrs May described the package as “a huge disappointment for families up and down the country”, and declared: “Rather than address the real problems at the heart of our family justice system, this Government would rather attempt to paper over the cracks. This is just another false dawn for all those many heartbroken parents and grandparents trapped for years in the courts and denied contact with their children.”

Highlighting the absence of a presumption in favour of equal rights for parents to have an influence on the upbringing of their children, Mrs May said: “This has meant that parents with residence have found it far easier to obstruct the other parent’s access to their children and their ability to have a say in how those children are brought up. Government must redress that imbalance.”

She added: “The Government has failed to grasp the real problem at the heart of the current system. What parents want is proper quality parenting time with their children, not the availability of more contact centres and warm words about ‘parenting plans’. Children need to have contact with their mothers and fathers if at all possible. The best parent is both parents. We need to ensure that children grow up with mother and father, and where ever possible Grandparents playing a full and active role in their upbringing.”

Ken Livingstone – 2004 Speech on Housing

Below is the text of the speech made by Ken Livingstone, the then Mayor of London, on 25 May 2004.

I am delighted to have this opportunity to speak at the second conference the Guardian has organised about housing for key workers. So much is now not just being written and said, but actually done about this important issue that it is easy to forget that just four years ago it was hardly on the agenda as a priority for policy makers.

I would like to pay tribute to the work of Chris Holmes, the former Director of Shelter, who chaired the London Housing Commission I established immediately after the first Mayoral election. It was Chris’s Commission and their report which identified just how critical this issue was for London.

The Commission rightly said: “The economic importance of London to the whole country means that the capital’s housing problems are not just a parochial matter. If London begins to fail economically there will be serious implications for the national economy…..The evidence in the Commission’s report demonstrates that there is not just a housing justification for a major increase in the rate of provision of affordable homes but also an economic justification and a public service justification.”

Another central conclusion of the Commission was that “the definition of affordability must work both for people in traditional housing need and for people on moderate incomes who cannot afford market housing.”

Over the last four years since the publication of that report we have carried that analysis through into the statutory London Plan. This now sets a requirement for new developments to contain not just traditional affordable housing, but also what has become known in the jargon as “intermediate housing”, catering precisely for the needs of those on moderate incomes up to £40,000 who are priced out of London’s housing market.

And we have secured new backing from Government for this policy approach. Government has endorsed and agreed the London plan and its housing targets; they have accepted my view that we need to support homes for rent as well as for sale for the intermediate market; and most importantly of all they have backed the policy with the funding that it – needs especially the new £700 million programme announced in March. This programme will give new affordable homes to more than 8,000 key workers in London in the next two years alone. And we have secured 62% of the national pot of resources for London.

A vital element in the approach has been to set new, higher targets for affordable housing. When I gave my backing to the Housing Commission proposal for an overall 50% target for London there was a predictable outcry from some in the housebuilding and development industry. It was claimed that setting higher targets would hold back housing production and supply.

Well now we are getting the evidence which shows that the Jeremiahs were simply wrong. The latest ODPM figures for housebuilding completions released this month show that overall housebuilding in London is up 52% since 1999/2000 and private sector housebuilding up by 55%. These welcome increases have coincided precisely with the period in which tougher affordable housing policies have been put in place because of my London Plan. And we have achieved this with the support of greatly increased public resources secured for London from government – the Housing Corporation programme up from £260 million in 199/2000 to £886 million. At the same time the housebuilders have been earning more than reasonable profits.

And we are on course to deliver 10,000 new affordable homes this year up from 6,000 in 1999/2000. More to do, of course, but we have built a really solid track record of progress. Now there is much more widespread acceptance of the policy approach from the private sector.

Given this record it is remarkable that during the current election Steve Norris should now be suggesting cutting back on the 50% target. The only consequences of this would be fewer affordable homes for Londoners and higher windfall profits for developers.

Steve is also completely wrong to claim the target is inflexible. I am inflexible about getting the maximum possible number of affordable homes for London But I promised that site by site the new policy would be implemented flexibly to ensure development was not held back. And that is what I have done on the major developments that come to me, such as on Greenwich Peninsula where we agreed 41% as part of an overall package of transport and other social infrastructure.

Had our policy starting point at Greenwich been Steve Norris’s 35% rather than 50% we would have lost at least 600 affordable homes on that one site alone. And over the next four years we would lose 20,000 affordable homes right across London.

One other important lesson from the Housing Commission is that key workers are not just nurses, teachers and police, vital though they are. The people who clean and porter at London’s hospitals are just as essential as the doctors; the people working in hotels who keep London’s tourism industry going are key workers; and so are the lower paid office workers who support London’s back office finance sector.

I agree with the Commission that our longer term objective must be to create an intermediate housing market in London that caters for the needs of all these people on moderate incomes, not just for narrowly defined occupational groups. And, of course, many of London’s key workers on the lowest incomes need more social housing. The idea that you help key workers by cutting social housing is an illusion.

But it is good news that we are now creating more low cost home ownership opportunities in London than ever before. And I am delighted that many of these schemes are also at the cutting edge of high quality design and the best environmental and energy efficiency standards.

There are fantastic examples of this built or being built in London by the private sector and by housing associations. One of the earliest housing schemes to come to me for a planning decision was the Grand Union Village scheme on the canal on the borders of Ealing and Hillingdon. When I first saw the scheme I asked my planning officers couldn’t we get more homes on the site while still having a really well designed and attractive development. If that could be done, the scheme should be more profitable which would allow the developer to provide more than the 25% affordable housing on offer.

The GLA planners were able to negotiate successfully for more homes and an increase in the amount of affordable housing to 35% with a big key worker component. I was delighted to go and open the scheme and see how not only were we housing local teachers and newly recruited police community support officers. But the scheme also met the highest standards of energy efficiency and recycling provision and had created new high quality open space and restored the canal basins.

As so often the quality of the scheme which is low rise – and the experience for people living there – was so much better at the higher density.

This month has also seen two London shared ownership schemes built by housing associations winning awards. in Haringey Circle 33 have worked with the Council and Primary Care Trust to turn an unpopular local eyesore into another award winning scheme of 71 shared ownership and rented homes, a healthy living centre and a CAB.

And in Barking Tower Homes won the national Affordable Home Ownership award for its top quality scheme of 69 shared ownership and rented homes which again meets my aspirations for more sustainable housing – photovoltaic cells in roof panels, low energy fittings, all meeting the lifetime homes standards now required by the London Plan and all with private rear gardens. This was also a scheme which tackled affordability in the right way – the average share bought was 41 per cent and the average income of the main owner £18,850.

Right across London there are more and more schemes like this underway – showing it is possible to produce genuinely mixed tenure developments – market and discounted sale, shared ownership and housing for rent – and with all the tenures pepper-potted, indistinguishable and built to the same standard. This is the right and only way forward for London’s new homes programme.

So for the future we need to keep up the pressure to hit the targets for supply and affordable supply – this year a minimum of 10,000 new affordable homes; next year closer to 15,000 and keeping at least at that level. Maintaining the overall 50% target is absolutely vital; and delivering the target will mean that we need to achieve more than 50% on some sites. Obviously housing association developments will help with that – and so will the exciting new initiative by English Partnerships to assemble land for affordable homes, especially for key workers. This should produce at least another 4,000 affordable homes over the next two to three years.

Another approach I want to encourage is securing more key worker housing without the need for public subsidy. More developers and builders are now coming forward with schemes of this sort and these should be encouraged through planning policy. On suitable sites particularly in areas where there are already high levels of social housing we should encourage developments of 100% key worker housing for rent and shared ownership. Increasingly there are signs that big financial institutions are interested in investing in this type of development opening up a minor new sources of finance for more key worker homes in London.

And we must continue to be imaginative in the way we use land – encouraging high quality mixed use development and looking for new capacity to build more homes. We have worked with the major supermarket firms to encourage them to build more housing above and around their new stores. Again this month we have seen another big scheme coming forward with Tescos planning to build 104 new homes above a new store in Clapham.

I believe there is further major potential to build new homes – and especially affordable homes – on and around rail and Underground stations and I will be asking London Underground to work with partners such as English Partnerships, housing associations and house-builders to develop a strategy to maximise these opportunities.

I will continue to work with and support other new initiatives to provide more key worker homes. Later at the Conference you will be hearing about the ‘More than Halfway There’ scheme which brings together big employers and trade unions in London to support building more key worker homes in London. I was delighted that the GLA was able to work with Britannia Building Society and other partners to support this scheme with feasilbility money, and look forward to these and other similar initiatives bearing fruit and housing London workers.

The other major challenge we face is to make sure that we deliver the new infrastructure that is essential for building London’s new homes and communities. New public transport schemes are vital to connect new homes to jobs and allow better quality and more intensive development. Cutting back on proposed transport schemes would seriously damage the drive for new homes for Londoners.

Just as important as transport is delivering more high quality schools, health care and other community facilities. These are needed for London’s growing population but will also improve services and facilities for existing residents. I have been working closely with the NHS and the Department for Education to plan together how to make these extra investments in London’s public services.

We now have much better co-ordinated policy to support the new homes Londoners need – and we have started to make real, demonstrable progress on delivering more homes and serving a much wider range of people in housing need, especially key workers. The new office of Mayor has made a decisive difference in bringing planning, housing and transport policies together, securing extra resources, supporting new initiatives and setting the right targets for new affordable homes.

The Barker Review – on the heels of the Sustainable Communities Action Plan – was the latest and perhaps most significant sign of the greater political priority the government is now giving to building new homes. Particularly significant because it comes with the backing of the Treasury.

The Treasury have accepted Kate Barker’s important recommendation about the need to bring together responsibility for strategic housing and planning policy at the regional level. We have already made big strides in that direction in London and shown the approach delivers real results, more homes. I will work with government to implement the Barker proposals in London which should mean giving the Mayor important new responsibilities for strategic housing policy and investment.. Given the right powers, more public and private investment, working in partnership, but not relaxing our targets we can deliver more and more of the high quality affordable homes London’s public and private sector workers aspire to.

Liam Fox – 2004 Speech to Conservative Party Conference

Below is the text of the speech made by Liam Fox at the Conservative Party Conference in Bournemouth on 4 October 2004.

Welcome to Bournemouth to this, our last conference in Opposition.

At this conference, a renewed and reinvigorated party will set out a clear and hopeful alternative for our country – one that promises freedom and security.

And we begin by reclaiming as our party colours the red white and blue that reflects our pride in our country. We will never surrender the colours of our flag to those on the dangerous fringe of British politics. We are the party of all Britain and all Britons.

Under the leadership of Michael Howard, we have become by far the biggest party in local government. On June 10th when millions of voters went to the polls, we pushed Labour into a humiliating third place. We triumphed in the London Assembly with our best performance since the early 90s. We have more women in local government. office than any other political party. And recently we showed that we can win again in the cities, for example, in Millwall in London, our first seat in Tower Hamlets for 40 years.

All talk and no action

Over the past year our membership has grown so that we now have more members than the Labour Party and the LibDems combined.

Remember what he said? 24 hours to save the NHS. Yet despite spending billions of pounds of your money look what’s happened. There are too many managers, too many filthy hospitals, too many people waiting for treatment – and you can’t even find an NHS dentist.

Remember he said education, education, education? But Labour have wasted billions on bureaucracy. There is too much paperwork for teachers and too little discipline for pupils.

He said tough on crime tough on the causes of crime but guess what he forgot. He forgot to be tough on the criminals, so crime, especially violent crime, is out of control. And to make matters worse, too many sentences are far too lenient.

Too many people live in fear in Blair’s Britain, a Britain crying out for more respect, more discipline and decent values.

And what about our security? At a time of greater threats from abroad what do we get from Labour? Cuts to the Army. Cuts to the Navy. Cuts to the AirForce. We will soon have a smaller navy than France for the first time since the seven years war ended in 1763.

And isn’t it shameful that this Government sent our servicemen and women to Iraq to fight without the proper equipment to protect them and keep them safe?

Then there’s asylum. Labour have lost control of asylum. Under Labour, Britain has become a soft touch. People look to us, the Conservatives, to get a grip on the system.

Of course, if you are Prime Minister, if you get five summer holiday freebies and spend more time out of Britain, these things might not matter to you .

But all these things do matter. They matter to all the people who have seen Tony Blair break his promises. Pensioners, patients, parents, pupils, taxpayers, students, our servicemen and women. Each and every one betrayed by Tony Blair.

No wonder people no longer believe a word he says. He is all talk and no action. No matter what he promises at the next election, nobody in this country will be able to trust him.

The LibDems

Of course, if you can’t trust Labour you could always try the Lib Dems.

They want to ban smoking but legalise soft drugs.

They want to license prostitution, but ban the sale of goldfish.

They want the age of criminal responsibility to go up but the age at which you can buy pornography to come down.

And they want prisoners all to have the vote – presumably because every inmate would support them.

They want a tax on zoos and a tax for regional assemblies. One MP wants cocaine to be sold from licensed premises.

They haven’t changed. They’re still a Party that likes to get high – high on taxes but low on integrity.

But a LibDem vote is not just a wasted vote, it is a dangerous vote.

Their crazy law and order policies would be even softer on crime than Labour. And their European policy would sell Britain out with a single currency, a single constitution and a single European defence policy.

They know they can never win office in Britain. But what they can never achieve in this country they would conspire to impose upon the British people from Brussels.

Michael Howard

It will fall to Michael Howard and the Conservative Party and everyone here in this hall to restore trust in British politics.

Let me tell you about Michael Howard. He gave me my first political job. Come to think of it, he may have given me my last one.

Michael is not always the easiest person to work with. He knows what he thinks and what he believes in. He likes a good argument – a very good argument.

He wants evidence and fact, not supposition and prejudice – and when he makes up his mind, he can be one of the most stubborn people I’ve ever met.

But not only is he one of the most fair and decent people I’ve worked with, but his case will always be based on reason and he will always put his country before his party.

What a contrast to our current Prime Minister, whose moral vanity means that he believes he is always right. Even his own Party can now see through the lame excuses from the lame duck Prime Minister.

The scale of our task

This Conservative Party last threw out a failed Labour Government under the brave and historic leadership of Margaret Thatcher. We owe her so much.

We were faced with a broken economy crippled by socialism. Our task this time will be just as great.

Not only will we have to restore trust in politics itself, We will have to restore the balance of power between the government and the British people.

Over the last seven years Labour have eroded more and more of our freedoms. They have created a pocket money society where the government takes more and more of our money to make more and more decisions on our behalf and they leave us with less and less income and less and less control over our own lives.

New Labour have hit us with new taxes. New taxes on pensions. New taxes on homeowners. New taxes on business.

And it is not just more taxes. They now intrude into every nook and cranny of our lives. They tell you how to do your job and how many hours you are allowed to do it for. How to bring up your child – even what to feed them. They extended means testing, so that pensioners who have spent their lives trying to be independent of the state now have to declare their savings to the ever more intrusive taxman.

This is not the nanny state – that makes it sound too cuddly – this is the intruder state, which is eroding our historic liberties, strangling our self- reliance and suffocating our freedoms.

Is this the sort of Britain we want ?

Where professionals are told how to do their jobs?

Where there is a speed camera round every corner not to make us safer but to lighten our pockets?

Where the rights of the countryside are decided by the bigotry of urban class warriors? Is this what we want?

New Labour have created a society where people increasingly feel that there is a growing gap between the law and justice. People feel that their burglars will never be caught, but they will be if they drive at 35 in a 30 zone.

And they wonder what is the point of the law if, when you fail the tests for asylum, you are still allowed to stay in this country.

Worst of all, New Labour have created a tyranny of political correctness. A tyranny where decent, ordinary people feel intimidated. They know there are things that need to be said, but they are afraid to say them.

Well, we are not afraid.

I thought it was outrageous for the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police to tell us that “gang rape” is a politically incorrect term . Apparently it should be called group rape. Well, frankly, I couldn’t care less about the sensitivities of rapists – what about the sensitivities of the victims of rape?

If a husband kills his wife in their home it’s not ” a case of domestic violence”- it’s murder. Let’s call it that.

And drunk youngsters on street corners who threaten old people are not guilty of “social disorder”, they are yobs, they are thugs and they are hooligans.

Its time to start saying things as they are.

A Conservative alternative

Britain is crying out for a new direction and this week we will give it. People are tired of Labour’s words. Tired of soundbites and empty promises. They are tired of being preached at.

They want action. And this week we’ll tell them what the next Conservative Government will do – and how we will make a difference.

Andrew Lansley will show how we will get our hospitals clean, get money through to doctors and nurses and give patients the opportunity to choose where and when they get their treatment.

David Davis will show how we will cut police paperwork, put more police on the beat and stop the early release scheme that puts the public at risk by letting dangerous criminals out too soon.

Tim Collins will show how we will restore discipline in schools and give parents the opportunity to choose the best school for their child.

We will show how we will stop Labour’s reckless defence cuts and make sure we have the armed forces to do the job.

And we will set a firm timetable for a referendum on the European constitution. If we win an election in May we will hold a referendum before we meet at next year’s Party Conference- a pledge that only the Conservative Party can deliver. We will campaign for a No vote. And we will get a No vote.

We will show that you can get a grip on asylum and stop Britain being a soft touch. It is not ” a lurch to the right” but an overdue response to the real anxieties expressed by the British people. If we do not deal fairly and clearly with these issues then there are those on the shadowy extremes of British politics who would love to exploit them.

We need a fair but firm system that helps genuine refugees. We will introduce a points system like they have in Australia. It will give priority to those who want to come to Britain to work hard and make a positive contribution to our country.

And, for the first time, we will set a ceiling on the number of people who can come into the United Kingdom each year.

Cleaner hospitals, discipline in schools, an end to political correctness, police on the beat, support for our armed forces, control of our borders and the British people controlling their own future in Europe.

A Conservative Government delivering freedom from fear and the security to enjoy our liberties.

A timetable for action

People are fed up with talk. They want action. They don’t want vague promises. They want to know exactly what a Conservative Government would do – and when.

That is why, that at this Conference, will do something that has never been done before. We will set a timetable for action. We will set out what we will actually do in our first day, our first week, our first month in office. So that people will know how to judge our performance, so that we can be held to account – so that we can restore trust between the government and the people of our country.

Natural Conservatives

We will show that there are huge differences in the way we see our future. Political parties are not all the same.

I don’t know about you, but one thing that makes me mad is when people say Tony Blair’s really a Conservative. He’s even had the nerve to compare himself to Margaret Thatcher. To paraphrase Lloyd Bentsen, we know Margaret Thatcher, we worked with Margaret Thatcher – Mr. Blair, you’re no Margaret Thatcher.

Tony Blair has raised tax and wasted our money. He has presided over an explosion in crime. He has lost control over the asylum system. He has failed to deliver his promises on health and education and he will sell us out on the European constitution. He’s no Conservative.

There is a fundamental difference between us and Tony Blair. On tax, we’re right and he’s wrong. On crime and asylum we’re right and he’s wrong. And on health, education and especially on our future in Europe, we’re right and he’s wrong.

All across this country, there are natural conservatives looking for leadership, for a place to go. They have forgotten what we stand for because we have stopped telling them. So, for those who wonder if they are natural conservatives, let me say this with all due respect to the Governor of California.

If you believe that the first duty of the government is defence of this country, then you are a conservative.

If you believe that you should keep more of your own hard-earned income, then you are a conservative.

If you believe that those who save for themselves and their families should be rewarded not penalized, then you are a conservative.

If you believe that government should give us the tools, get off our backs and let us get on with our lives, then you are a conservative.

If you believe the law is for the security of the law abiding and to punish not to excuse criminals, then you are a conservative.

If you believe that we are a nation of individuals whose talents and diversity should be encouraged, you are a conservative

And if you believe that the British people should have control of their own destiny, then you are a conservative.

We must tell these things to the British people with clarity and courage. We can restore trust in politics.

There is an alternative.

You can make a difference.

Less talk, more action.

For the sake of this country the fight starts today.

Liam Fox – 2004 Liberty and Authority Speech

Below is the text of the speech made by Liam Fox at the Conservative Policy Forum Swinton Lecture in Bournemouth on 4 October 2004.

For seven years, the people of this country have been strung along with promises of action. Promises which they no longer believe, from a Prime Minister they no longer believe.

Tony Blair’s decline is, above all, a decline in his reputation for honesty. The constant promises but lack of delivery in public services began the process, the contempt for commitments made, such as those on tuition fees, exacerbated the feeling, and the Iraq war was the final straw. The public, remember, initially backed the war strongly. It was the Prime Minister’s justifications for the war, veering wildly with alarming rapidity and no consistency, which has done the damage to his reputation, possibly forever.

The political process, for both politicians and the public, requires certainty. Yet certainty has been undermined by a Government that seems to have no answers, apart from those we have learned not to take at face value. This uncertainty manifests itself in disturbing social trends and unspoken fears, in particular the growing disenchantment with, and distrust of, the political process.

Unfortunately, this isn’t just a problem for Tony Blair and his Government. Arguably it is we in opposition who have the biggest problem. In Government one can, at least, pull the levers of power, which will, if nothing else, operate the smoke and mirrors that provide the appearance of action. However, until such time as it wins power, an opposition must be taken at its word. And, after seven years of spin, the word of a politician doesn’t count for much. We might not think that’s very fair. After all, we’re not the ones in charge of the spin machine. But it is the reality. Tony Blair has so debased the language of politics that no politician may speak and automatically expect to be believed.

Thus we must make our words meaningful. We must convince the public that we can make a difference. We must explain exactly what we would do in government, when and how. Which is why the theme of this conference is a timetable for action. Between now and the next election we will present detailed plans for delivery on health and education, crime and immigration, and all the other issues that matter most to the British people.

Now that New Labour’s smoke has blown away, their mirrors crack’d from side to side, what the voters want is certainty. They demand a Government with policies that work and are seen to work. And this isn’t just a matter of competent administration. The people of this country want leaders who believe in what they do, and do what they believe – because belief is the essential counterpart to action, without it there is no direction, and therefore little point in taking action.

The first question

So what do we believe?

I believe the Conservative Party must change and is changing. But we must never be like New Labour who have achieved so little because they believe in so little. That is not to say that I preferred Old Labour whose problem was not a lack of belief, but belief in the wrong thing.

Socialism is a credo opposed to our own not only in content, but also in style. Whereas socialism is theoretical, revolutionary and pseudo-scientific, conservatism is experiential, evolutionary and instinctive, something more easily felt than described. That is why, in a century of struggle with socialism, we came to be defined more in terms of what we didn’t believe than in what we did. People voted for us because we didn’t believe in punitive taxation or a centrally planned economy or the dominance of the unions. And we still don’t. Of course, these days, very few people do – a testament to the outcome of our struggle with socialism, but also to the start of a new struggle to define ourselves in terms of what we do believe, rather than what we don’t.

So, the question remains, what do we believe in?

Liberty and authority

On one level the answer is straightforward; and was defined, even before the modern Conservative Party came into existence, by Edmund Burke: Conservatives believe both in the individual and society; aspiration and community; freedom and responsibility. In other words, we believe in both liberty and authority.

These are the twin pillars of Conservatism. And yet, as Burke was at pains to expound throughout his life’s work, liberty and authority, though co-dependent, are in tension. It is a tension that persists to the present day and that we, in the Conservative Party, feel keenly; and which our enemies would wish to portray as a battle between modernisers and traditionalists, or, if you prefer, mods and rockers. But authentic Conservatism is not about a choice between liberty and authority, but a balance between the two – allied to a distrust of an over mighty state which compromises both.

This is the true path for our Party and always has been, it stretches back to Burke, and forwards into the 21st century and beyond. Achieving that balance is not easy. And, sometimes, the road ahead can feel more like a tightrope. Nevertheless how we tread that tightrope, how we strike that balance, is what defines us as a party.

And the subject of this lecture.

Sacrifice or investment?

There is such a thing as absolute liberty, and, for that matter, absolute authority. Respectively, they are represented by the extremes of anarchy and tyranny, which as moderates we reject. Across the mainstream of politics, it is accepted that we need to exchange some, but not all, of our liberty, so that the authorities can act on our behalf, achieving collectively what we cannot achieve as individuals. Those of us on the centre-right seek to tip that balance in favour of liberty, while our opponents on the centre-left try to push the equilibrium back towards authority. But that is not the only difference between us, or even the most important. After all, there have been circumstances, such as times of national crisis, in which Conservatives have had to shift the balance away from liberty. What really counts is the ultimate purpose we have in exchanging liberty for authority.

Is it for its own sake? For instance, for the glory of an empire, the righteousness of a theocracy, or even the New Jerusalem of the welfare state? Or is it so that the collective achievements of our society might provide the basis for yet greater and more meaningful personal liberty? In other words, is the exchange of liberty for authority a sacrifice or an investment? Labour demands sacrifice; Conservatives prefer investment – that is the essential difference between us.

It is a difference made all the clearer in the principles by which we seek to facilitate such investment:

The principles of balance

The five principles I want to set out today are those of respect, morality, democracy, localism and identity.


On the eve of the second gulf war, Lieutenant Colonel Tim Collins roused his soldiers with some remarkable words: “We go to liberate not to conquer” he said. He spoke of the long history of Iraq, urging his troops to “tread lightly there.” He spoke of the qualities of the Iraqi people, urging his troops to “show respect for them.”

It is an attitude that the powerful should always take when intervening in the lives of ordinary people – whether abroad or at home. While it is in the nature of Labour Governments to think of themselves as the masters, the next Conservative Government will strive to tread lightly, to show respect for the people we govern.

A government that respects the people should only impose its will where necessary, allowing society to operate on the basis of consent wherever possible. That is why we believe in free markets, it is also why we are determined to give the voluntary sector the biggest possible role in our communities and public services. We are equally determined to put fat government on a diet, to strip away the bureaucracy that serves no purpose but to tread heavily in the lives of ordinary people.

When we do ask people to make an investment of their liberty, it must be in proportion to the return. If a rule, regulation or tax is not worth it in the long run, then we must get rid of it now. If the incentives created by the tax and benefit systems are just plain perverse, then we must reform them now.

During a recent visit to a nursing home in London I met a charming elderly lady who was 103 years old. She was extremely up to date with politics and said it was a pity that I had been unable to meet her daughter. On further enquiry I discovered that her daughter was 82 years old and living on the third floor of the same home. “Young man” she pointed out, “we are only 10 years away from three generations of my family being in care – who is going to pay for it?” It is a good question, but one which will not be answered while the system punishes those that save for their old age. That is why Conservative policies on pensions, savings and care for the elderly will reward those who take responsibility for the future.

Of all the old certainties, none is more important than the confidence that the authorities will respect you for doing the right thing. But people feel increasing disrespected by Government. For instance, people feel that the law is only really enforced against the law-abiding. The police are happy enough to enforce speed camera fines against ordinary motorists who have their cars properly registered. And yet as many as one in five cars have been found to have no tax or insurance or no proper registration to a responsible owner at a correct address. What is being done about that? Clearly, it is harder work going out and finding the owners of unregistered cars than collecting easy money speed camera fines from the law abiding.

Then there are the nation’s taxpayers, who surely have a right to expect a return on their contribution. It may be that the greatest danger facing Labour, enmeshing Gordon Brown as well as Tony Blair, lies in the stubborn refusal of the public services to yield improvements despite the huge increase in spending and taxation. Having tested to destruction their theory that more money would be the answer, Blair and Brown must be perplexed that health, education and transport have not noticeably improved. Their answer is more taxation which will certainly come if Labour is returned to power. But people have their limits. They have lives to live in the here and now. They cannot give up everything in the present for a better future, especially when that future never comes. A Government that treads lightly must be one that reduces the burden of taxation on Britain’s hard working families.


These are moral values. And it is morality, by which I mean a sense of right and wrong, that must guide our efforts to find the balance between liberty and authority.

There are those who consider themselves above such considerations, who’d prefer politics to be a value-free, technocratic exercise. No doubt they consider themselves to be terribly liberal, but they are nothing of the kind. Theirs is the condescending bigotry of political correctness, a supreme arrogance that believes its positions to be beyond question and thus deserving of permanent, unaccountable power.

That power is exercised through quangos, inquiries and supranational structures hidden from public scrutiny. Only one viewpoint is allowed, with utter distain shown for the principles by which ordinary people decide what is right and what is wrong.

It is no surprise that the same unaccountable elite should have such disdain for Parliament, and have sought to circumvent its authority. But that will change under a Conservative Government. We will restore the historic role of Parliament, so that the big decisions are made in full view of the people, who can judge for themselves the morality of our actions.


When the people judge their politicians and find them wanting, they must be able to act upon that judgement and throw the rascals out. Though not perfect, democracy is the only system of government in which liberty may be balanced against authority, without some elite imposing its values on everyone else. It is the only system in which right may prevail over might. As such, it is our hope for all mankind, and why we will argue the moral case for democracy in the face of the bigots who believe that certain cultures are suited only to dictatorship.

But overt tyranny, and those who would appease it, are not the only foes of democracy. When their might cannot openly prevail, elites have a habit of insinuating themselves within ostensibly democratic systems so that they may exercise power unaccountably, which is why we need to understand democracy in its fullest sense. That means never leaving people at the mercy of such elites. One way or another, authority in all its guises must be held accountable.

Sometimes this accountability will be that of the social market – a dialogue between the providers of our public services and the people who depend upon them. That is why we believe in the right to choose for parents and patients. So that they will always have a proper choice of schools and hospitals.

In other situations it may be impossible to give individuals a choice of institutions. For instance, there can only be one system of law and order, only one police force in any one area. But we cannot go on as we are. There has never been a wider gap between people’s ideas of justice and what they expect the law to deliver. The root cause is that our justice system is now less accountable than it has ever been to ordinary citizens and to local communities. Instead, it is answerable only to the centre. In practice, its priorities are set by a metropolitan elite whose ideas about justice are far removed from those of the ordinary citizen. The solution is direct democracy. Under the Conservatives, every police authority will be directly elected by local people. We will give everyone the chance to vote for the kind of policing they want on the streets where they live.


Localism is vital to all of this. And by localism I don’t just mean the balance of power between different levels of government. I mean that the balance between liberty and authority must be struck on a case-by-case basis, preferably by those that must live with the consequences.

Because each case raises its own specific issues it should, with due reference to precedent, be considered on its own merits. In this way, a true democracy can reach and sustain a balance through countless considered adjustments, made with local knowledge – as opposed to the rigidity of some grand scheme imposed from above. This is the way of Britain’s tradition of common law, one which we will defend from the incursions of European law and the growing power of an unaccountable judicial elite.

It’s not only the law to which this principle applies. Anywhere, and any situation, is local to the people that live and work there. Therefore true localism is about respecting the independence and the experience of the people that keep this country going – the business people who create the nation’s wealth, the professionals who provide our public services, the volunteers who hold their communities together, the parents who raise the next generation. Our working assumption is that they know better than the politicians and should, wherever possible, be empowered to take the decisions.


Of course, not every decision can be made locally. That is why we need politicians who as representatives of the people make decisions on their behalf. If such decisions are to strike the balance between liberty and authority, then they are best made on the basis of common interests, common values and common inheritance – in other words, common identity.

Earlier, I spoke of the civilisation on which the development of greater and more meaningful liberty depends. But civilisation is not something made anew every few years, but something which is inherited, built upon and handed on by each generation. This is why so many of the biggest decisions have to be made collectively, because our liberties depend on an inheritance we receive not as individuals, but as members of a greater whole.

Thus the basis of individual freedom is inextricably linked with those group identities through which we inherit our traditions, be that the family, the community or the nation; and therefore wherever liberty needs to be balanced with authority, that authority must reside alongside identity within the group. That is why Conservatives will always defend those group identities to which we owe a natural loyalty, above all our country. We will not give up our currency, we will not submit to a foreign constitution, we will never agree anything that compromises the ultimate right of the British people to be in control of their own destiny.

Upsetting the balance

Ladies and gentlemen, our principles are under attack. Our country suffers under a government with no regard for respect, morality, democracy, localism and identity.

The attack on identity

New Labour is hostile to all forms of identity that it cannot control. Thus European integration is valued above national sovereignty; regional government is used to undermine local identities; and even our parish councils are on New Labour’s hit list.

The attack on localism

For New Labour there is no duty to push power downwards, rather it is a privilege that can only be earned by doing what the Government wants you do anyway. Where we aim to localise, they have centralised. The institutions and professions of our public services have suffered a sustained assault as power is sucked away from communities and into Whitehall. Even in Whitehall the independence of the civil service is undermined. As is Britain’s constitution which they call unwritten, but which is, in fact, written in centuries of common and statute law, the legal embodiment of our culture of governance.

The attack on democracy

Make no mistake, this is a government that believes in grand schemes of its own devising, not in the organic development of our common life. Their modus operandi is the circumvention of the democratic process. Their desire is to emasculate Parliament, handing over its powers to unaccountable structures be they home-grown quangos or EU institutions like the Commission or the Central Bank.

The attack on morality

Tony Blair once said “what’s right is what works”. What he didn’t say, but clearly believes, is that an oligarchy of appointees is best qualified to decide what works. Thus decisions once the province of the electorate and their representatives, are now increasingly made by a hand-picked technocracy of the great and the good. Except that the decisions they make are never great and rarely good. Indeed, the sheer poverty of New Labour’s moral code leaves little room for considerations of good and evil, right and wrong. What’s right is what works, and what works is what works best for Tony Blair.

The attack on respect

As a result, New Labour is uniquely ill equipped to tread lightly in the lives of the British people, still less to show respect for them. This government is creating a society in which many people feel singled out or left out. Like the police force in some banana republic, this Government is never there when you need them, always there when you don’t. The sheer cynicism of the Labour’s attack on rural Britain is an example of the former, while, in our inner cities, the latter are represented by decent law abiding citizens who find them themselves under siege from those allowed to ignore the law.

Tony Blair is upsetting the balance between liberty and authority. Not one way or the other, but both ways at once, creating uncertainty and achieving the worst of both worlds.


In this lecture I have not only argued for a balance between liberty and authority, but set out the principles by which a Conservative equilibrium may be achieved. Those principles – of respect, morality, democracy, localism and identity – are all we need to unite us as a party.

But perhaps we imagine that they are so generally accepted that the only question that remains is whether to nudge the balance in favour of liberty or authority, one way or the other. If so, we would imagine wrongly. Our principles are under attack as never before. New Labour has made its position clear on the forces of conservativism. But ultimately it is liberalism that is in danger.

The mission of the next Conservative Government is to restore the balance on which our freedoms depend. We must govern in a way that respects the hopes and fears of ordinary people, we must have the moral courage to distinguish right from wrong, we must be resolute in our defence of democracy, visionary in our advancement of localism and proud of the nation we seek to lead.

It has sometimes been said that the British public are more concerned with being led than where they are being led. While this is a gross (and condescending) oversimplification there is no doubt that voters like to feel that their leaders have a clear understanding of both their problems and the potential remedies. Tony Blair’s philosophy has always been uncertain, but his current lack of a political compass and his reputation for evasion and dishonesty are leading this country astray.

But for the first time in a decade the Conservatives look more thoughtful about Britain’s problems than Labour and under Michael Howard’s leadership more trustworthy and honest. We have a uniting message. It can be different. There is an alternative.

Oliver Letwin – 2004 Speech to Conservative Party Conference

Oliver Letwin

Below is the text of the speech made by Oliver Letwin, the then Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer, at the Conservative Party Conference on 4 October 2004.

Do you remember?

Do you remember when Tony Blair offered us a new kind of politics? Do you remember that?

Well, we’ve had a new kind of politics.

It’s a kind of politics where nobody any longer trusts a word that politicians have to say.

We’ve had a new kind of politics.

We have a civil service, bigger than Sheffield. We have!

We have more officials in one department, the Department of Work and Pensions, than there are soldiers in the whole of the British Army. That’s a new kind of politics.

A new kind of politics, where a pensioner in my constituency is spending a third of her entire disposable income on council tax. That’s a new kind of politics.

Or the young person whose trying to get a foot on the ladder, trying to get a house for the first time, buying a house for £60,000 and 1 pence and they’re paying £600 of stamp duty.

Or the family expecting to inherit an ex-council house, and they’re paying death duties. That’s a new kind if politics.

It’s a new kind of politics.

When the Prime Minister, the first Lord of the Treasury hasn’t a clue what’s going on in the Treasury. Has to smuggle officials through the back door of No 10 to find out. That’s a new kind of politics.

Do you remember something else? Do you remember when they told us there was going to be justice for all? Social justice.

So when that pensioner in my constituency is paying a third of her income, her disposable income, on council tax, is that social justice? No.

Or when that young person, trying to get their foot on the ladder, is clobbered with £600 of stamp duty, is that social justice? No.

Or when that family expecting to inherit that ex-council house is paying inheritance tax, is that social justice? No.

You know what makes it all desperately unfair, so unjust, is that these people aren’t even getting value for money.

Do you remember the story of the woman who found that her rubbish was being collected half as often as before? The government said is it was some kind of directive, and the council said it was some kind of directive and they couldn’t do it anymore as well as they used to. And what did she do? She was probably a Conservative. She went out. She hired a private firm and she charged her neighbours and they were happy to pay. They pay all that council tax and then pay, on top, to have their rubbish collected.

Is that value for money?

Or when you’re sitting in a traffic jam, and you’re thinking of all those taxes you’re paying, is that value for money?

Or the parent who desperately wants to send their child to the school of their choice, and they’re appealing, and they know that 80% of the appeals in inner cities are turned down. Is that value for their taxpayer’s money?

Or your grandmother. The grandmother whose trying to get into hospital. She’s waiting 6 months and after paying taxes all her life. She gets in. She gets MRSA. Is that value for her taxpayer’s money? No. No.

And can we do something about all this? Can we take action to change things, to make a difference? You bet we can!

We can thin down this fat government by getting the money, from the taxpayer, the frontline where it’s needed. We can give the taxpayers of this country, something that they haven’t had these last seven years.

We can give the taxpayer value for money.

We’ve shown what that means. You saw the video.

You saw how line by line, department by department, we’ve been working through the fat bureaucracies. Working out how we can thin them down. Just last week Nicholas Soames and I announced what that means for frontline defence. By saving on the fat bureaucracies elsewhere in Whitehall, and by slimming down the bureaucracy within the Ministry of Defence, we can bring £2.7 billion more to frontline defence between now and 2008 than Labour plans, and that means we can save our regiments.

There is somebody else who’s heard about all this. Somebody who gets most of his best ideas from our programmes. You guessed it, Tony Blair.

So, he rings his neighbour next door, the neighbour from hell.

So it’s our Tony and our Gordon.

And Tony says to Gordon: “Gordon these guys, these Conservatives, they seem to be on to something. Couldn’t we do something to thin down the fat bureaucracies you’ve created?” Note the “you”.

And Gordon says: “Tony, give us a break. We’re Labour, we specialise in fat bureaucracies.”

And Tony says to Gordon: “Well Gordon, couldn’t we at least pretend that we’re going to do something to slim down the fat bureaucracies. Give us a hint Gordon.”

And Gordon says to Tony: “Now you’re talking. I can say we’ll cut 104,000 jobs out of the bureaucracy. 20,000 of those, well they’ll be in the devolved administrations in Scotland and Wales. We don’t have to do anything about them. 11,000? They’ll be reallocated. They won’t go anywhere. And to make up for the remaining 73,000, well, I’ll make up for them by hiring another 200,000 bureaucrats over the next 3 years, so we’ll end up with more than we started with.”

It’s a sham.

It’s a pretence.

And it means just one thing. It means Labour’s third term tax rises.

It means council tax on the average home rising to £2,000 a year.

It means £900 more of national insurance from the average earner.

It means Labour’s third term tax rises.

And can we do anything about that? Yes, indeed we can.

By thinning down those fat bureaucracies. By sticking within my tight spending plans. We can fill in Gordon Brown’s black hole and prevent Labour’s third term tax rises.

And by sticking to my tight spending plans, we should enable ourselves to do more.

We should enable ourselves to do something serious. To give us a simpler and a fairer tax system.

We should enable ourselves to give this country a serious remedy, for that pensioner who’s paying a third of her disposable income on council tax.

We should enable ourselves to give that family which has a person in it, a young person trying to get on the housing ladder, paying that £600 of stamp duty, some relief.

We should enable ourselves to give to the other family that’s expecting to inherit the ex-council house, some relief from the inheritance tax.

Yes. We should expect to be able to do something serious for those people.

Now, I know what many of you expect me to say next.

I know what some people in some sections of the media think it would be courageous if I said next.

They think it would be courageous if the next thing I said is: I promise you to cut taxes by so much and such-and-such a day.

It wouldn’t be courageous at all. It would be very easy.

I’d say it. You’d cheer. We’d all leave, and no one out there would believe us at all. Because there have been too many broken promises on tax, from too many politicians.

The sad truth is when we were in office, we made promises on tax we couldn’t keep.

And everybody knows what happened when Tony Blair said he had no plans to increase tax at all and then raised them 66 times by stealth.

So no more broken promises on tax.

Instead of promises, actions

Instead of words, deeds,

The next Conservative government will act to make a difference, to make Britain better.

On the first day of that government I will freeze civil service recruitment.

In the first week of that government I will lift the controls those wretched best-value, comprehensive, performance, assessment regimes of Labour government.

And in the first month of that Conservative government I will delivery a budget which will implement the James reforms, and begin the thinning down of those fat bureaucracies and set Britain on the path to a lower tax economy.

Actions. Measurable, accountable actions to make this country a better place to live in.

Shouldn’t be any kind of surprise to hear Conservatives talking about actions.

As we go forward into the next election, as we face that great test and meet that great challenge, let’s remind ourselves who we are.

We are the party of action.

We are the party of Shaftesbury who first took action to bring compassion into British politics.

We are the party of Wilberforce who freed the slaves.

We are the party of Disraeli, who elevated the condition of the people in order that he could make a Britain one nation.

And yes, we’re the party of Margaret Thatcher, who gave people the right to own their own homes, and gave Britain back her freedom and her security.

And now, our party, under the leadership of Michael Howard, as the next government of this can set Britain free again.

Queen Elizabeth II – 2004 Queen’s Speech


Below is the text of the speech made by HM Queen Elizabeth II in the House of Lords on 23 November 2004.

My Lords and Members of the House of Commons,

My Government will continue to pursue policies which entrench economic stability and promote growth and prosperity.

My Government will continue to reform the public services to ensure they provide more security and opportunity for all.

My Government attach the highest importance to extending educational opportunity so that all individuals can realise their full potential and the country can benefit from the talents of all its people. A Bill will be introduced to streamline the regime of school inspections to help raise standards for every child in every school.

A Bill will be introduced to extend financial support for 16 to 19 year-olds engaged in training and education.

My Government recognise that we live in a time of global uncertainty with an increased threat from international terrorism and organised crime. Measures to extend opportunity will be accompanied by legislation to increase security for all.

My Government will legislate to introduce an identity cards scheme, and will publish proposals to support the continuing fight against terrorism in the United Kingdom and elsewhere.

Legislation will be introduced to establish the Serious Organised Crime Agency, and the powers the police and others have to fight crime will be strengthened. In particular, the Bill will introduce new measures to deal with harassment by animal rights extremists.

My Government will introduce legislation to tackle the problem of drug abuse and the crime that flows from it, and will tackle the disorder and violence that can arise from the abuse of alcohol.

My Government have always recognised the importance of clean and safe neighbourhoods. There will be further legislation to tackle anti-social behaviour.

A Bill will be introduced to help to reduce further the numbers of those killed or injured on the roads.

My Government will bring forward legislation to reduce reoffending by improving the management of offenders.

A draft Bill will be published to tackle juvenile crime through more effective rehabilitation and sentencing.

Legislation will be introduced to reform the criminal defence service, making better use of legal aid resources. A draft Bill will be published to support those with legitimate civil claims and reform the system of tribunals.

A draft Bill will be published to introduce a new offence of corporate manslaughter.

My Government will continue to take action to secure high levels of employment as they reform the welfare state.

My Government will continue to provide protection from discrimination and exploitation.

Legislation will be introduced to combat discrimination in the provision of goods and services on the grounds of religion, as well as race, sex and disability. A single Commission for Equality and Human Rights will be established.

My Government will maintain their commitment to social justice and legislate to increase the rights of disabled people.

My Government will continue their reform of the National Health Service, offering more information, power and choice to patients, with equal access for all and free at the point of delivery.

My Government will continue with legislation to provide a statutory framework for dealing with the financial, health and welfare decisions of those people who might lack capacity through mental illness or disability.

Measures to reform the law on mental health will continue to undergo pre-legislative scrutiny.

My Government believe that the welfare of children is paramount. Draft legislation will be published to safeguard the welfare of children in circumstances of parental separation and inter-country adoption.

Consumer credit law will be updated to provide greater protection from unfair lending practices and create a fairer and more competitive credit market.

My Government will also introduce a Bill to improve standards of animal welfare and increase the penalties for abuse.

My Government will continue to modernise the constitution and institutions of our country to ensure they are equipped to meet the challenges of the future.

Legislation will be brought forward to provide a modern and comprehensive framework for statutory inquiries into matters of public concern.

My Government will continue to take forward in this session the constitutional legislation introduced last year.

A Bill will be introduced to give effect to the Constitutional Treaty for the European Union, subject to a referendum.

My Government are committed to reducing bureaucracy and the costs of government, and to promoting efficiency. A Bill will be introduced to integrate the Inland Revenue and Her Majesty’s Customs and Excise.

My Government recognise the importance of modern, effective and safe transport to meet the needs of the public and the wider economy.

Legislation will be introduced to streamline the organisation of the national rail system to improve performance.

A Bill will be brought forward to authorise the construction of Crossrail.

The Government will continue to legislate to allow local authorities to provide innovative and safe school transport.

My Government believe that the voluntary sector is a great strength of this country. Charity law will be modernised so that a vibrant, diverse and independent charitable sector can continue to flourish with public confidence.

My Government will introduce legislation to consolidate the distribution of lottery money to good causes.

Proposals will be published to protect the nation’s rural heritage, through draft legislation to modernise the management of common land, and to create new arrangements to deliver rural policy.

Members of the House of Commons,

Estimates for the public services will be laid before you.

My Lords and Members of the House of Commons,

My Government will continue to work closely with the devolved administrations in Scotland and Wales, and will work to bring about the conditions necessary for the restoration of the political institutions in Northern Ireland.

Legislation will be introduced to provide the Welsh Assembly with a range of transport-related powers.

Other measures will be laid before you.

The Duke of Edinburgh and I look forward to our visit to Canada. We look forward to receiving the state visit of His Excellency the President of the Republic of Korea and receiving the state visit of His Excellency the President of Italy. To mark the centenary of Norway’s independence, we also look forward to receiving Their Majesties King Harald and Queen Sonja of Norway.

My Government will assume the presidency of the European Union in July and will use this opportunity to work towards building an increasingly prosperous and secure Europe.

In addition to the European Union presidency, my Government will hold the G8 presidency in 2005, which will include working on the important issues of Africa and climate change.

My Government will continue to work with partners around the world to prevent terrorism and the proliferation of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons, and the problems of drug smuggling and international crime.

My Government will work to strengthen commitment on both sides of the Atlantic to the transatlantic relationship and to the continued effectiveness of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, and will work with the international community to strengthen the United Nations.

My Government will continue to support the Government of Iraq to provide security and stability and ensure that elections can be held in January.

My Government will continue to support efforts to build peace in the Middle East, to promote democratic reform and reduce conflict and extremism.

My Lords and Members of the House of Commons,

I pray that the blessing of Almighty God may rest upon your counsels.

David Blunkett – 2003 Speech to the Association of Police Authorities


Below is the text of the speech made by David Blunkett, the then Home Secretary, on 4 November 2003.

Don’t worry, I have come to praise not to bury Caesar. So thank you, Ruth, for what you are doing.

Thank you to all of those who are giving enormous time and energy to what must sometimes feel like a thankless task. I do sometimes have the same feeling, but I get paid reasonably well for it! Many of you don’t, so you have my appreciation for what you are doing.

Today I want to be able to spell out not only where we are at, but the process that we are about as well. We are launching a consultation paper today, along with the new National Policing Plan, which I will come to in a moment.

We do so on the basis that there will be a consultation period. We will then produce another document with more firm proposals and we will consult on that as well. We won’t move towards any change or legislative alterations until this time next year.

So there will be 12 months for people to engage in a genuine dialogue, to listen and learn, and to firm up on those things that we can gain consensus on in terms of how we can bring about improvement.

There is only one agenda and it is the same as yours. That is to ensure that we serve the people that we do serve better, and to ensure that the forces we oversee in one way or another are actually able to do so and achieve that as well.

It is very good to be in Manchester. It is not widely known, given the publicity that has just occurred, that the force has been at the forefront over recent months of addressing its own problems, under the leadership of Mike Todd, taking on the real challenges.

One of the ironies of the two year undercover investigation by the BBC was that it was precisely because a previous Chief Constable had actually admitted that the force did have a problem, that the BBC thought they might go in and prove it. Now they certainly did with a vengeance and as a consequence of the enormity of what was found, the Crown Prosecution Service will not be taking action against the individual, Mark Daly, who actually undertook that work.

But I do want to make it clear that we can’t for the public have those who take on responsibility and who are absolutely crucial to trust, emerging as not being police officers at all but working for someone else. I do appeal to the media that although there will be times – and this was clearly one of them – when undercover operation will reveal things that ought to have been revealed through normal management practices, we do need a code of conduct in this if we are not to have a free for all.

After all, who might emerge some day as being the real Greg Dyke rather than the one we have actually got?! Probably with the same accent.

Now, Ruth mentioned that Oliver – who is a good friend of mine actually (as you know, we get on far too well – too well for him and perhaps too well for me) – is speaking on Guy Fawkes day tomorrow. He will explain the multiplicity of options available to a Conservative Home Secretary if one still exists when the next Conservative government is elected. Ranging from sheriffs through to fantasy islands for asylum seekers.

Now I just thought I would let you know that I did once have a phone call with Oliver when he was riding a horse. I just envisaged him as the gun-slinging, gum-chewing, Sheriff of Westminster. A frightening prospect for you if not for Chief Constables! He is here tomorrow to tell you a little bit about the kind of reforms that he is envisaging.

I am interested that we are now all on stream in terms of actually wanting to see some change. It makes your life, Ruth, a lot easier because you ride a tiger – a tiger with no political majority, with a consensus that by its very nature is crucial to the police authorities’ voice being heard and taken seriously.

And yet a consensus that can only be gained if we in government and our main opposition parties are sensitive to knowing that many of the things you are doing at the moment are misunderstood, are not known about, are not heard about, and therefore raising the temperature is about raising the profile.

It’s about actually getting across what needs to be done and what could be done.

I am comforted in my role to know that there is possibly life after death as being Home Secretary. After all, Michael Howard has re-emerged as the leader of the Conservative Party. I gather that I will have to give it a year or two and re-invent myself, which I am very happy to do! At the moment you have got me as I am.

I just want to say today that the easy life is to leave things alone. I think it was Margaret Thatcher who said that no change was not an option. And clearly if you want to improve your standing publicly, but more importantly your ability to influence and to bring about change at local level, you will want to join with us in looking at what might be done over the next year to re-examine that.

With the Chief Constables, with ACPO, and with yourselves, I am up for looking at what we really mean by operational responsibility. I said so on the Today programme this morning. Not in terms of breaking the tripartite approach – I think we need to reinforce it by being much clearer about the different elements (the role, the responsibility, the levels of accountability) that should exist in the three part approach – but actually be able to define it much more clearly.

Simply shouting ‘operational responsibility’ does nobody anybody good. Of course Chiefs and Commanders at divisional level have to have day to day hands on responsibility. Nobody in their right mind, let alone a Home Secretary in or out of their right mind, would attempt to direct policing from the centre. You wouldn’t, as police authority members, either want to, or have the capacity to, get engaged in doing that.

So there is no surreptitious agenda of taking away the right of those in the service to manage the service. After all, I don’t have the power of hire and fire in the civil service for historic reasons and to avoid politicisation. Because of the Nolan changes, we don’t now have the power in terms of the appointment of those representing outside organisations and the community.
We have moved from politicians determining who serves, who chairs, who is on all of these outside bodies, to civil servants, with at least one outside observer helping them do it.

You have a situation where you have to exercise influence through the relationship and goodwill that exists between you and those operating the service. We need to examine how that might work better and what those influences might be. But above all, we need to examine how we enable you to do the job better.

Hazel Blears will be talking tomorrow about the new slimmed down National Policing Plan – from 51 requirements to five key priorities. The five obviously relate, I think, to the commonsense things that all of us would agree on.

Incidentally, they don’t include targets on chasing motorists and speed cameras. I mention it because you mentioned it, Ruth. But I did read an article in the Daily Telegraph a week or two ago that actually presumed that the government had laid down targets for police forces on catching motorists with speed cameras.

Well you suffer, we suffer, from both misunderstanding and sometimes malign intent because it makes a good story and people can do a knocking job.

But actually what we are about in this debate is changing performance. It is all about lifting the game. It is about comparability between what is achieved – not just between one force or another, but within one force and another, and the reasons why.

I think that the job of the Home Secretary – apart from resourcing (and I will come to that at the end, so that I go out on a low note!) and the legislative power to enable the police to be able to do their job better (as well as their partners – environmental health, housing, the whole panoply of organisations that make up crime reduction partnerships) – has to be the role in terms of having the information and disseminating the information that makes it possible for people to actually be able to make those comparisons at local level.

For you to be able to determine what is happening with genuinely comparable police force areas, because you have to compare like with like. To be able to do so in terms of different elements of the command units in your own force areas. They vary from forces that only have two or three command units to areas like Greater Manchester with eleven, and of course the Metropolitan Police with borough-wide command unit areas. We need to be able to look at the data and work out why there is such inconsistency.

So my first point is that consistency is absolutely crucial. When people move house they expect the quality of policing to be the same across England and Wales. We live in the same community, we pay the same taxes, we expect some form of accountability. Accountability to you in terms of police authorities, remaining the same or revamped, or slightly reshaped, or to the community that is served in new ways.

So part of the reform agenda isn’t simply about the shape of police authorities, but how neighbourhood panels can work better, how this fits in with the reforms that the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister is engaged with – with what is called new localism. I am not entirely sure about the title. Some of us were involved with this a long time ago. I remember writing a pamphlet 21 years ago called ‘Building from the Bottom’. I still believe it and I think that we need to examine that area.

The third, of course, is the visibility and the accessibility, because part of influencing what takes place in the neighbourhood and at local level is very much about the connection that people have with their force. The citizen in uniform was, of course, the emergence of the police force of old, where people felt close to, and able to engage with and get a response from people they saw and understood.

All of this, of course, relates then to how you develop police forces in the 21st century – with forensics, with technology, and of course with the tremendous challenge of organised crime and global criminality. Force level, neighbourhood, command level operations, are interfered with on a daily basis now by the diversion of resources to meet entirely new challenges.

We need to address that and I welcome your views in terms of any restructuring. Not some big bang restructure, not structure changes for their own sake, but sometimes just modest thinking about lead force areas in terms of a particular region taking on particular tasks that expertise can be developed in. Or some form of regional structure dealing with particular areas of criminality that require that focus.

These are all part of the consultation and the reform agenda in which you have an absolutely crucial voice. Firstly, because you know it well. Secondly, because you have the capacity to put together alternatives to the ones that we just tentatively touch on in what is a very green edged Green Paper, but in order to ensure that we face those challenges together.

There is no point in saying to a Chief or a Divisional Commander that we want to ensure that there is continuity of employment of community beat officers if, of course by necessity, those officers have to be pulled off for major murder inquiries or something similar.

They had this experiment with research funded by Rowntree in North Yorkshire, which frankly tells us nothing. It was in a neighbourhood where there was a particular individual employed who was pulled off so often from the community, that in the end the community were less certain, less secure, than they were before the experiment began.

That just tells us the blindingly obvious – that if you are going to have good community policing you need continuity of the people being there. That is why Community Support Officers have very rapidly become so popular, because people can see them and on the whole they don’t get pulled off for other duties.

Also because people do need to know that the intelligence-led approach is not simply about macro intelligence and technology-led activity, but it is about people who know their community, who understand it, who can relate to it, who are respected by the community.

So these things go hand in hand and that is why accountability is of course about performance and the spreading of best practice, but it is also about re-engagement with the community at a level that people can understand.

So I don’t think there is anything to fear from this. I think all of this fits in with the five priorities that we have laid out for the National Policing Plan. The people, citizen-centred focus, for the service. Tackling the anti-social behaviour and disorder that completely bedevils the community and undermines trust and confidence. Reducing volume crime – even the best Chief Constables who are community orientated are still aggravated about having targets on burglary and vehicle crime.
I understand why, but if we are going to have a debate leading up to the general election – when not the British Crime Survey, but tit-for-tat who-reduced-recorded-crime-the-most is going to be the issue – you will forgive Home Secretaries if they actually want to reduce volume crime.

So do the public because when they hear that crime has gone up a certain percentage, certain numbers, in the end that undermines all the good work that is going on in tackling the underlying causes and the things that really get to people most. After all, it wasn’t the Home Office who introduced the new National Crime Recording Standard. We have got it now and we have got to live with it.

Transparency is a wonderful idea, except that, when we published the figures in July, one Deputy Chief Constable in the North East had the audacity to tell his local paper that it was nothing to do with him – that it was the Home Secretary who had introduced the new NCRS. Thank God the neighbouring authority had a Chief Constable who actually contradicted it. It’s a bit odd though isn’t it when a Deputy Chief doesn’t know who introduced the new National Recording Standard? So a bit of accountability there wouldn’t come amiss. I just thought I would get that off my chest!

I have mentioned tackling organised and serious crime and we are engaged at national level with looking at revamping the services – the organisations, that are actually engaged with organised crime and border controls. The Prime Minister has established a new Cabinet Committee, which I chair, and we will be engaging rapidly with how we can make the National Criminal Intelligence Service, the National Crime Squad, the Customs element, the intelligence element of the immigration service, and many more (including Special Branch and those who are engaged along our coastal borders), more accountable and work more effectively together.

And of course bringing more offenders to justice is a key and absolutely critical element. But if we are going to do that then we need to ensure that everyone gets credit for what they do. There is no point in having more transparent, and therefore more recorded crime, with more police to report crime to and therefore more confidence and more acknowledgement by the public that they have trust and faith (and reporting of crime goes up), if as the police actually catch more of those people, the press (as they did a few weeks ago) then denigrate the police for not having caught a higher percentage of a higher recorded level of reporting.

The level of understanding in this country about crime, criminality, and recording, is so poor that we all have a task together to try and bring a bit of light into the darkness, so that people do get credit where credit is due.

So in launching the pamphlet it is precisely to open up these issues. To engage with the neighbourhood, with the command and divisional level as most of us know it, with the shaping of those who have a role in terms of holding the police to account in a way that is positive for the future that we’re engaged in.

And you naturally and understandably commented heavily on the idea of direct election. I made it only one of six possible changes that we outline in the document. I am deeply mindful of the danger of rabble rousers or racists becoming elected. It would be very easy indeed – which is why we are sceptical about sheriffs – to find that one person, for instance, had greater power than ever before.

But in the end, you are right. Whether it is Merseyside or Baltimore, unless people actually have an understanding of who to hold to account and for what, and how the police authority could work to be engaged more and to have greater influence, then obviously we would be wasting our time. We would be deluding people into believing that you had power you didn’t have, and that you were to be held to account in a way that missed the point – the point being that those who claim to have the power, who wish to hold the power, should therefore be accountable for the power.

I need to clarify over the next year what the role of the Home Secretary would be in the future. Oliver and Mark can set out what they believe to be right. If they believe that we should denude the Home Secretary of any levers of power then let’s have that debate. I don’t mind standing up at the dispatch box and blaming everybody else but myself, that would be a very easy role – gun-slinging Home Secretary without any bullets in the gun.

We don’t have all that many bullets in the gun as you may have noticed, but what we do have we must use more judiciously. We need to address, for instance, issues of centrally imposed bureaucracy paperwork and statistical data collection in a way in which I hope the new head of the Standards Unit will assist us.

Paul Evans from Boston in the United States has a tremendous record. A light touch, low key individual who I hope will work with you and with forces across the country to achieve this.

But the other end of the corollary is that if forces believe that bureaucracy is imposing unnecessary burdens, they must say so. If police chiefs believe that there is something that can be done, let them do it. Don’t let us have Chief Superintendents
e-mailing the Radio 5 programme – as I had when I was at my Party Conference – with a whole litany of things for which he, as a very senior manager, should have had responsibility.

It is time for the police service to lead and manage, and not just oversee the operation of the force requirements. Management means manage, difficult as that is. Difficult in terms of the deployment of resources. Difficult in holding their own force members to account. Difficult in terms of demanding why it is that response times are so bad in some areas but not in others.

Why it is that the way in which people are treated when they report crimes are so bad, but not in others? Why it is that Superintendents tell me that they are so frustrated with the call centre which they and their chiefs should be overseeing and changing?

It’s not about passing the buck to someone else, it is time to really get a grip. So that when the public tell us through the opinion polling and the focus groups, which have been done carefully and quietly over the last 12 months, that almost 80% of the public want to know more about the police and believe that they get to know very little; when over two thirds want more say in how the police respond; when 34 out of the 43 force areas are still reliant on the old PCCG consultation mechanism set up in 1984, and every one of the 34 say that they know it is unsatisfactory; then there is room for change.

So alongside genuine fears that you have about what we might or might not do in terms of direct election, there is a much, much bigger agenda. It is about prompting change within the service itself as well as within the operation of the police authorities. Not just so that people know who to grumble to, so that they have somebody else to let off steam to, but actually to change the practice. Because letting off steam and frustration must be something that you feel day in, day out.

If the public feel it, you must feel it. I feel it because thousands of letters come in and when you go on radio programmes and you do phone-ins – I was doing the one on Radio 2 the other day with Jeremy Vine – an avalanche of calls about the very simplest things in police force areas.

Now I made the cardinal mistake of a Home Secretary in believing that I might have some influence. So I asked them to take their details down so that I could take them up with force areas. I do have one advantage over most police authority chairs. If I create a real fuss there is a chance that it might get covered. There is just a chance that I might be able to call in the Chief from the local area. They might recall my first few months as Home Secretary and take me seriously about it.

But there is a bigger chance – if we actually have a better relationship, if we have systems that work rather than relying on muscle – if we are able to deal with people where it matters.

That is why I have put forward the idea of community advocates who would be employed, I hope by you, and working to you, but actually able to engage with the police at local level. Filtering out all the things that cause frustration but are not the job of the new IPCC complaints function. Weeding out things that would otherwise actually pull the police away from doing the job into dealing with constant gripes. Able to be a voice working with you and alongside you. That seems to me to be a positive suggestion. Let’s shape it in another way if you don’t like it.

There are a couple of services – the Met and the West Midlands – looking at engaging people from the community as assessors in terms of appointments. Let’s look at how that is working and whether we could do better with it, including at neighbourhood and local level and how we could engage people so that they are genuinely involved and included. And let’s do so with the optimism that we are genuinely making a difference.

Under the British Crime Survey, which is the only reliable survey because its methodology hasn’t changed, except that it has been slightly broadened, we know that crime is falling. In other words the polling is now broader and therefore more reliable. We know that people are getting a better service. We know that the likelihood of becoming a victim is the lowest for 20 years.

We know from the British Crime Survey that even though the fear of violence is going up because more violence is now counted – violence that was never counted before in recorded crime is now counted as an automatic and regular feature – we know from the BCS that serious violence overall has actually fallen over the last year.

We need to be able to sing about the fact that we have 12,000 more uniformed officers than three years ago. We had some catching up to do, but I think 12,000 more is a pretty good record. I would like to go out of office with an even bigger record of increased police numbers, of the several thousand – it’s 2,000 at the moment – Community Support Officers.

A lot better than going out of office after four years with 1,000 fewer police officers than you came in with, which one of my predecessors (who will remain nameless but is a very prominent individual at the moment) will remember.

And joining together – let me step on dangerous territory – on ensuring that in the spending review next summer there is a very clear understanding that we are all intent on resourcing the police properly. That we know there is a very difficult balance between what you have to raise locally – the £2 billion that you raise locally – and the near £9 billion that we are allocating from the centre. A difficult balance for the very reason, Ruth, that you spelt out. That the gearing effect that the public understandably don’t understand – where for every 1% increase in local spending you have to raise 4% over and above what we are giving you – in those circumstances we need to get it right and we need to know what the demands are.

Over the last three years there has been a 19% increase in real terms over and above inflation. This coming year will be very tight. No authority will get less than inflation, but it will be much tighter for the Police Grant, plus of course the additional resources that come in from the centre which are allocated to the locality, including the 50 current Command Unit divisions who get direct funding of £50 million from the centre. And the drug-related Criminal Justice Intervention Programme which we will be announcing an expansion of in the next few days.

All of these things coming together to make it happen.

If there are precept increases of the magnitude (and I said this to the Chief and to the Chair of the Police Authority in North Yorkshire last week) of 76%, you are going to give me a hell of a job in arguing the case with the Deputy Prime Minister and the Chancellor. But reasonable, sensible precept increases that have to take account of gearing, that do recognise that this is an incredibly tight year. But also that local people want more police visible and accessible on the beat, that you need to resource – yes even helicopters seeing as though they are sponsoring your conference – even helicopters surveying the neighbourhood. That they want a police force that can use the best technology and forensics available. And that we want to continue pressing down on crime, raising numbers, and giving confidence to the public.

If all of us can join together on that agenda – difficult as it is to be a popular Home Secretary – it just might be that police authorities of the future and well-known, highly visible Chief Constables and Commanders, will have both the respect of, and the gratitude of, the public for a better police service in this country than we have ever known before.

David Blunkett – 2004 Speech at the New Local Government Network


Below is the text of the speech made by David Blunkett, the then Home Secretary, on 22 January 2004.

Thank you very much indeed for the invitation, and David can I just reassure you that Sheffield didn’t plumb the depths while I was there! It certainly is reviving very strongly. It’s reviving with a combination of self-help and government help.

Firstly, I think this is very timely. I think this conference is appropriate in dealing with some very broad and difficult issues. It reminds me that in reflecting on the cross party commitment to localism, which sometimes comes and goes – and which at the moment seems to have come to all political parties – that it has been a long and difficult road from; if I can be mischievous for a moment – from Joseph Chamberlain to Sandy Bruce Lockheart. We have had the commitment of powerful Conservative leaders to de-centralised, regenerated localism, and from Labour Party members like Ken Livingstone and myself we have had a recent history of commitment to innovation and enterprise in local government.

But it is much, much broader. And I don’t want to simply address the issue of local government today – my colleagues the Deputy Prime Minister and Nick Raynsford are responsible for that, but the wider context of how central and local government can facilitate the sense of identity, the sense of commitment, enterprise, and innovation, which comes from localities, from neighbourhoods, from towns and cities and counties.

It seems a long time ago since the days of Joseph Chamberlain, but it was actually at a time when central government was concerned with issues around international order, the British Empire, the issues around the place of Britain in the world. And it is one of those paradoxes that today we are dealing with the issues of security and stability in a new globalised world and a global economy – the challenges of terrorism and cross-boundary issues, the way in which all of us are subject to what is happening across the world in a way that I don’t think was conceived of even 20 years ago.

And how, just as with the days of Empire, it is at the very local level that people identify – that they have a sense of belonging, that the security and stability and order in their own lives can be reinforced. This is how the tremendous change and rapidity of change that is taking place around us – the challenge and sometimes the fears and insecurity that grow from globalisation – can actually be counteracted and counterweighted by providing support – particularly at local level.

I think that this is the challenge for all of us in government, at whatever level, and in terms of governance. It fits with the history which was one of initiative and enterprise and innovation, building from the bottom (which was the title of my own pamphlet with the Fabian Society just over 20 years ago). It is about building from the bottom in the sense that it is in people’s own lives that they experience the day to day challenges, and they turn to governance and government at each level for support, and backing, and enabling in terms of being able to resolve those problems.
It was from the neighbourhood, it was from the early days of communities – with the goose and burial clubs, that from their name were all about savings for Christmas and for dignity in internment – it was the working men’s societies, it was the local education trusts that came together and then demanded that they were supported and helped in broadening what they could do across local, and eventually across national government.

I think that we need to turn to that localism again and to remind ourselves of it in being able to develop new approaches – not simply in terms of shaping how we relate to local communities and local people and neighbourhoods from the centre, but also how we revitalise democracy.

I don’t think there is a single person in this room who wouldn’t accept that we have a major challenge in getting people to feel that they want to engage, that they can engage, and above all that they have confidence in the political process – which, after all, in our country is the essence of democratic change – in a way that doesn’t allow them to turn away, to be alienated from that democratic process; that doesn’t allow them to turn to extremes in terms of those who would delude them into believing that there are simple answers to very complicated questions.

Nor do I think there would be anyone in this room who would seriously believe that government itself could disengage from those issues.

There was a time, when I was heavily involved as Shadow Local Government Minister, and before that as Leader of Sheffield Council, when the late Nicolas Ridley was the Secretary of State for the Environment. I can remember him making a speech that his ideal situation would be for local government to have an annual meeting (he did actually say with a lunch, but I don’t think you would be able to afford it these days) where contracts would be agreed for the year with private providers, and then Councillors could go home and get about their business.

I don’t think any of us are into that. We are into supporting the change which reinforces the good that’s already taking place, the best practice that is already happening, the enabling and facilitating that is already part of the revitalisation of localism. And to build the confidence that drained away – and David Walker is entirely right about this – in the late 1980s and early 1990s, so that I think there was doubt in the minds of those who took on the tremendously difficult mantle of trying to revitalise their communities. Doubt about the role, about the uncertainties, about the relationship of locality to centre.

I think that is why this debate around civil renewal and about regeneration from the neighbourhood is critical.

We have seen put in place over the last few years new forms of relationship between the centre and the locality. It has varied between regeneration programmes driven by the Single Regeneration Budgets, which have seen panels and forums put in place, through the New Deal for Communities. It has seen the reinforcement and revitalisation of a belief in central government – the 2000 Act and the 2003 Act passed by the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister in relation to providing new opportunities for charging policies, for wellbeing.

The powers that were put in the 2000 Act for the development of local government’s role in terms of local wellbeing are often forgotten and little talked about. The way in which the new business improvement districts, which we will be consulting on from July this year, will enable people through local ballot to decide for themselves whether they want to raise and spend. And how they wish to spend money, including on the areas that I have responsibility for in terms of security, order and stability, and an environment and quality of life which enables enterprise to flourish, tourism to be encouraged, people to go about their business in terms of shopping and leisure without fear.

And therefore this afternoon it is my hope that we could just engage for a moment with those issues around stability and security and order.

It seems to me that over the years the role of the locality has changed. We have seen developed the Crime and Disorder Reduction Partnerships – often described as Community Safety Partnerships. We have seen the gradual amalgamation of the Drug Action Teams into those partnerships. We have seen the engagement by local government itself, but also the local strategic partnerships, and community forums and panels.

It varies across the country but the intent is the same – to engage people in making decisions, and to reinforce the message that they are part of the solution; that mobilising local communities against drug abuse and misuse is a crucial part of that process. That actually engaging people with local policing, with the development of Street Wardens and now with Community Support Officers, is part of ensuring that people at local level are engaged as the solution. That we can actually cross agencies, departments of central and local government, and see it as part of our challenge and our problem.

I therefore hope that from the debate that is now taking place, we can see community safety as much a part of that local governance as leisure and libraries, emptying dustbins and the environment, because they all go together. The ‘broken windows’ theory about the way in which neighbourhoods disintegrate and the way in which once that is allowed to take shape, other forms of criminality and disintegration are reinforced, is just simple commonsense. We all know it is true. The moment that things start to slip, the moment that self-belief in the community disappears, is the moment that those who can afford to do so get out of those neighbourhoods. And when they do, they leave behind less capacity. They reduce the community and social asset base. They actually undermine, therefore, the capability of the community to be part of the solution.

It is a downward spiral that was mapped pretty clearly in North America and which I think we have seen some reversal of in terms of Britain. There was a fear at one time that the disintegration of inner city, that the movement out of urban areas, that the despair and disillusionment in those areas facing the greatest disadvantage, would be reinforced and that there would be a spiral downwards. I think that has started to reverse. I think that in our own communities we experience it. We can see community organisations revitalised. We can see people regaining a self-confidence and self-belief that allows them to engage. We can see the organs of government, including local government, warming to and engaging with those activities.

I remember when I was a very new Councillor in the early 1970s being severely told off by some of my older colleagues in my own Party for daring to advocate that we should support local Citizens Advice Bureaux and advice groups, on the grounds that it took away the essential role of Councillors being completely run ragged by every problem going in the community. Those days have long gone.
I remember being taken to task, and in fact given a good telling off, for being in favour of a local community newspaper run in one of our most deprived areas, on the grounds that it challenged the local hierarchy and was a dangerous pre-requisite to community development, which was obviously seen by both major Parties at the time as a dangerous trait.

In fact I remember Margaret Thatcher, when she first came to power, pulling the plug on advice and community development programmes which were seen as an aberration and something that would challenge the bastions of democratic politics.

Well I’ve not changed my mind. I actually think that engaging people in radical politics in their own neighbourhood, ensuring that they know that those who are elected are on their side, but that they inevitably will have to take much more difficult cross-cutting decisions and show leadership, that revitalising democracy by bringing it alive and making it real at local level makes sense.

So as part of my own remit and as part of the ‘big conversation’ that the Labour Party has engaged in, we want to hear how we can make available to the many what is currently only available to the few.

Take the example of gated and secure communities. Not just in London but primarily in London, there are communities of the wealthy – sometimes through the leasing arrangement, sometimes through a levy – where people contribute towards the security and order within the enclave in which they live. Not just security in the crime sense, but also in the quality of the environment.

When I lived just outside Wimbledon I was part of the Wimbledon Common association where, compulsorily, all those within three miles had to contribute – and still do – to the wellbeing of the wider area and the environmental improvement, as well as the patrols on the common. Everybody took that for granted.

Now the legislation that I have referred to – business improvement districts, the charging policies based on best value, the wellbeing provisions of the 2000 Act – give the possibility of being able to develop this concept in a way that would provide greater equity. Of course it means that both central and local government would have to equalise what was readily available. It is easy for those of us who are on reasonable incomes to agree to pay a small extra amount purely into our local area for a very localised product, without fearing that it will somehow be part of the wider debate in relation to Council Tax and precepts, which I will come to in a moment.

It is possible to do that and it is already happening – where Street Wardens have been funded, where (in some cases) local government has topped up Community Support Officers in order to link with the police to provide for a particular local need. For instance, in the experiments that have taken place through English Partnership and in London through the London Development Agency, we have seen night wardens – in Coventry, actually used to provide safety and security in the city centre, which I think is a very good and positive move.

What I am advocating is a debate about how we can build on those experiments and ensure that people know that they will get backing in doing so.

The impact is obviously one of giving people confidence to be able to go about their business, but it is also one of giving confidence in being able to regenerate the area, attract investment, get parents to want to stay and send their children to the local school that is part of the local community, that is part of the regeneration and rebuilding of the area.

Doing it in partnership, which is the absolutely crucial element, so that we are sharing the resourcing and we are sharing the task. Changing the relationship between government and governed, so that people genuinely feel not only that they are being enabled to take decisions, but that government at every level is there to help them do it. Thirdly, to revitalise democracy and strengthen citizenship and civil society, so that people are part of the process of reform and modernisation.

At the beginning of November we published from the Home Office a consultation paper on reform of policing, both in terms of the relationship and accountability of the police to local communities, and the structures to back it up. We have had very substantial and very welcome feedback, and we are still getting that over the next few weeks. We will then publish a more definitive consultation paper which again will be out for people to comment on and to be creative in coming back to us in the way forward.

What is absolutely certain is that this is a two-way process. The police can’t do their job in creating an environment of safety and security if they don’t have the backing and the engagement of local people. But local people aren’t going to warm to, have confidence in the criminal justice system as a whole, if they aren’t listened to, if there isn’t accountability and responsiveness at local level, and therefore the establishment of panels, the decentralisation to Command Unit (or Divisions as some of us call them) in terms of decision making within the police. The way in which this links to regeneration programmes and capacity building, and the development of assets in the community, all makes a difference to whether we are likely to succeed.

So we are in this together: greater accountability; a greater clarification of where responsibility lies is important because there is confusion about this. Confusion and muddle are the great buzz words of the moment. It usually means that someone doesn’t understand what you’re talking about and we all carry responsibility for making sure that we speak plainly and that we are understood. I take that as a key principle for national politicians as well as for those reporting what national politicians are saying and doing.

Take the crime statistics that are out today – the quarterly figures. We have two sets of figures. We have recorded crime which, under the new transparency, is seeing a vast number of crimes that previously weren’t recorded now being recorded by the police – with more police to report them to and so even more recording going on. It is very encouraging that, even with that proviso, vehicle crime, burglary, and robbery have gone down, and I welcome it, albeit that they’re relatively small additional drops on what has already been achieved. But we also have the British Crime Survey – which is a world leader in terms of what it actually samples and what it does – which again shows drops. But one shows a stabilisation in violent crime and the first, the recorded crime, shows an increase.

I don’t think anyone would dispute that people actually perceive that violent crime, particularly low level violent crime, has gone up. Not surprisingly, because of binge drinking and the recording of low level violence on a Friday and Saturday night. Not surprisingly, because we have already spelt it out that there is a real challenge on domestic violence, which is why, with all-Party support, we are legislating to get a grip on it. Not surprisingly, because anti-social behaviour, as we were spelling out earlier this week, is bedevilling our communities. This is why, through housing, environmental health, through the police, through the criminal justice system (including the magistracy and district judges), we need a different step change in terms of what we are doing in tackling anti-social behaviour.

But anybody who thinks that this is the sole responsibility of any single partner would be deluding themselves. So the issue of where accountability and responsibility lie is sometimes very difficult because it lies in a whole range of areas. Actually, usually at Home Office questions, it lies with me, whether it is a partner approach or not. So those who are in favour of operational responsibility and accountability at local level suddenly have an aberration when it comes to making sure that the Home Secretary is responsible for crime across the nation.

It’s a cross I am happy to bear. All I would ask is that the reality – whether I carry final responsibility or not – the reality for making change, lies with us all.

And that is really just the message that I wanted to get across this afternoon. That if we are going to debate revival in the neighbourhood and community, and if we are going to actually address what the causes are, and if we are equally going to take responsibility for being part of it, then we will need to do that together.

It is self-evident that central government has to give leadership – responsible not only for resourcing, but obviously for wider macro-economic issues. Which is why the Prime Minister, the Deputy Prime Minister, the Chancellor and myself, with Nick Raynsford, the Local Government Minister, are asking for restraint in terms of Council Tax levels. This is why I am going to be engaging heavily with police authorities in terms of their precept levels because they have an impact on the Council Tax. We must be balancing the need to invest in local services and the complexity of local government finance, with genuine responsibility nationally and locally for the impact it has on the wellbeing of others.

And I think that is a sensible debate. I think those who are, as the Deputy Prime Minister and his colleagues are, looking at how to find improvements in the way we raise resources, will need the help of those who, at the moment, understand the difficulty, but aren’t always so ready with answers that would find solutions to difficult problems. I know about this because, when I was Shadow Local Government Minister many moons ago, I was dealing at the time with the demise of the Poll Tax and the creation of the Council Tax. We were debating exactly these issues about the difficulty where you don’t have buoyancy in the system because you have to raise the tax just to equal inflation before you bring about any further investment. The issues of gearing where, if only a quarter of the overall taxes are raised at local level, then for every 1% (you’re familiar with this) of increased spending you are raising 4% in terms of the tax. These are difficult, complex issues.

We are in it together because whether it is a precept or whether it is the direct Council Tax, it all impinges on people’s lives. That dialogue with local people about what they really want and what they can pay for is so vital to the future.

We are asking – and we are working with the Local Government Association on this – that local authorities should come forward as what we are describing as ‘civic pioneers’ in terms of spreading best practice. We will try and ensure that, through the grants that are given to Community Safety Partnerships and the Drug Action Teams, and of course the Criminal Justice Intervention Programme, we reflect support from ourselves at the Home Office in terms of making it possible for people to engage in innovative ideas as to how to engage with greater security and order in their lives. As the foundation for regeneration, for quality of life, for wellbeing and, I have to say, for getting people to hear messages about progressive politics and about wider issues. Because people who are frightened and fearful in their own lives are most likely to disengage.

But there is a wider issue here as well. That is this. If we can engage a sense of identity, a sense of belonging; if we can use the best of local initiatives, like the Balsall Heath Forum, like what is taking place in East London with Bromley-by-Bow, the work on the Royds Estate in Bradford, and work in Newcastle, and many other parts of the country, where people have seen the initiative and enterprise of local people being critical to success and to change; if we can do that, we can have a wider impact on social cohesion, on community and race relations, on people’s confidence in welcoming change, coping with change, and being prepared to welcome and understand and live with difference and diversity.

So there are big gains to be made here right across the piece in terms of the capacity of people to cope with difficulty and change in their own lives, but to be welcoming and embracing of wider changes in the community.

It can’t be a top-down approach – it is going to have to be two-handed. But in the end the challenge at local level is for local government to embrace what is happening in the neighbourhood, to reinforce and welcome it rather than to see it as a threat. For central government to see innovation and change and ideas from the neighbourhood and from local government as a plus not a minus. And for central government to be much clearer about where it stands in terms of its areas of responsibility and where it should be held to account, and where this lies elsewhere.

If we can get it right it’s a plus for all of us, from whatever political stance we take, because at last local people will engage. They are more likely to vote. They are more likely to understand what is happening in their own lives across the piece – whether it is health or education, whether it is the environment they live in, whether it is housing issues, or whether it is anti-social behaviour. And if they do so, we will have a more vigorous, alive, and vibrant democratic system.

I challenge not just you – because you’re here because you believe in it – but everybody across the country to say that they don’t want that to happen. If they think this isn’t the way, or they think as I do that it’s only a part of the solution, then I think they need to be courageous and honest enough to come forward with ideas of their own.

All of us know what we don’t like, all of us know what we are against. Actually what we are in favour of and how we are going to bring it about is a much more challenging and difficult issue to deal with.

I am glad that this conference is taking place and I wish the Network well, and its relationship and work with the Local Government Association and the IDeA will be absolutely crucial.

I hope that we can go from strength to strength in being able to square the circles, deal with the contradictions, and have a damned good row when we genuinely disagree.

David Blunkett – 2004 Speech at Harvard Law School


Below is the text of the speech made by David Blunkett, the then Home Secretary, at Harvard Law School in the USA on 8 March 2004.

I am very pleased to be here in this great city and University which are both such powerful symbols of the strength of our shared history and connections. A history which has not – of course – always been harmonious but which has perhaps rarely been closer than it is today. I am reminded of a story about our first Ambassador to the United States – then based here in Boston. A year passed during which time no communication was heard from him. Silence which gave rise to some concern back in Whitehall. So much so that the Prime Minister and the then Foreign Secretary communicated and agreed that should a further year pass without any word from across the Atlantic they would have to write a letter to him. What a contrast to today when our Governments correspond and speak perhaps on a daily basis.

The Governments of the United Kingdom and the United States are often depicted in their responses to the international terrorist threat as destroying traditional human rights and freedoms. I want this evening to explore and indeed challenge that theme, partly through the prism of history and the development of ideas and partly by reflecting on the reality of the challenges that face us today and indeed with which I engage on a daily basis through my work as Home Secretary.

I take as my starting point the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which recognises that the most fundamental human rights are those of life, liberty and security of person. This implies for me that people who are killed or maimed, bereaved or put in fear by terrorists are stripped, cruelly and arbitrarily, of their rights and that security and safety is the underpinning raison d’etre of government.

So the dichotomy which some people seek to establish between the rights of people to be protected against terrorists and their right to enjoy traditional liberties is I believe a false one. It is not a question, therefore, of choosing between rights, but achieving a balance which maintains those rights. Our Lord Chief Justice, who doesn’t always take my side, said in a speech to the British Academy in October 2002:

“There are pressures created by the need to protect this country from merciless acts of international terrorism. These pressures will test the Human Rights Act. But the Human Rights Act is not a suicide pact! It does not require this country to tie its hands behind its back in the face of aggression, terrorism or violent crime. It does, however, reduce the risk of our committing an ‘own goal’. In defending democracy, we must not forget the need to observe the values which make democracy worth defending.”

I wonder if Abraham Lincoln in his letter to the Albany Democrats was not making a similar point when he said: “Thoroughly imbued with a reverence the guaranteed rights of individuals” and explained that he had been “slow to adopt strong measures”. He predicted however that “the time was not unlikely to come when I shall be blamed for having made too few arrests rather than too many”.

Any politician with these responsibilities can immediately empathise with the tension that Lincoln is identifying. Someone with a progressive outlook who was faced with extraordinary challenges of the time.

As we confront today the awful prospect of the suicide bomber, we need to continue that crucial and necessary debate – a debate I led in the House of Commons two weeks ago – about how to maintain that vital balance, and the options we have in maintaining our democratic values, whilst protecting our democracy.

The development of our traditional rights

Fortunately we do not come to the task unguided by our history. The insights which help guide us in striking the balance between the security and liberty of the many and the rights of the individuals have been the work of centuries.

Some may argue that some of those blows for liberty were struck in this very city against some of my predecessors in office.

It is often argued that the traditional rights enjoyed by citizens of Britain and the United States can be traced back to Magna Carta – albeit at that stage rights for a rather limited strata of society! I have recently been reading about this very period, the context of the time of King John and so the development of Magna Carta – or its immediate re-write to be more precise. It has certainly been a reference point for the development of these ideas.

With your own founding fathers other rights were added – freedom of religion and speech – building on the protestant tradition of John Locke – freedom of assembly and of the press, rights relating to privacy, which of course brings its own contradictions, and the separation of powers – building on the ideas of the French philosopher Montesquieu.

At the same time, in Europe, Enlightenment thinkers like Jean-Jacques Rousseau were attempting to square the circle in a different way, focusing on democracy and active participation, rather than a fixed constitution, as their preferred way of reconciling individual freedom with society’s need to pursue shared aims and values.

John Stuart Mill too, in his own way, tried to reconcile his belief in individual freedom, passionately set forth in ‘On Liberty’, with his commitment to social progress and rational social choice, which showed through in his writings on government and the utilitarian philosophy.

All these thinkers appreciated the value of the individual, and individual freedom, but also appreciated that extending that freedom more widely – beyond the leisured intellectual class – would not happen automatically, but required some positive action on the part of the state. They disagreed on what form that action should take, of course – but when didn’t philosophers disagree!

It often seems as if modern politics does not leave us with time today to be philosophers but just as our ideas are shaped by the thinking and questions of the past, so I believe that it is important for us more directly to allow the insights of the past to speak to us afresh.

That does not of course mean that we cannot move from the ideas of the past. In our own day we have taken forward this agenda of the development of human rights and made our own distinctive contribution. I would point especially to the legislation we have introduced in both our countries against discrimination and exploitation. For example, the common law provided no general protection against unfair discrimination on racial grounds. That is now enshrined in legislation. In Britain this protection was first introduced by one of my predecessors as a Labour Home Secretary Roy Jenkins in the 1965 Race Relations Act and others have built on that, most substantially in 1976 and recently further changes by my immediate predecessor Jack Straw.

But perhaps the more dramatic challenge for our own day is to protect our freedoms in the far more complex global environment in which we now operate. An environment which means economically, through trade, communication and politics that we have to address these big issues afresh with a world – rather than national – stage in view. A stage in which the additional challenge of balancing collaboration and intervention with pressures for isolation and disengagement brings its own strain.This also has implications for international military action. Our Prime Minister outlined precisely this approach following the Kosovo war and repeated it in a speech last week. He called for a “doctrine of international community, where in certain clear circumstances, we do intervene, even though we are not directly threatened. because in an increasingly interdependent world, our self-interest was allied to the interests of others; and seldom did conflict in one region of the world not contaminate another”.

Isolationism and protectionism may be possible and may bring benefits in the short term but neither will sit with finding a way through the challenges for world stability and justice. And ultimately, we cannot keep the challenges and problems perhaps stemming from other parts of the world entirely from our own shores.

And so there is an added dimension to that evolving process of balancing rights in our own day. And that is balancing the needs and rights not just of our own citizens but of people throughout the world. And in the same as domestically we are now talking much more about rights alongside responsibilities, so we must do the same in the international context. We must not make the mistake of thinking too much about purely individual rights and too little of duty and responsibility.

Of course at national level we have institutions to help us achieve this balance between individuals communities and the State. And in your own country that also means between the different elements of the State. And I am encouraged that what clearly emerges on both sides of the Atlantic is a subtle dynamic, yet highly robust, sharing of power. In both our systems, power does not rest in one place or with one person or organisation, it moves between them, and as it does so it changes to meet the needs of the time. I believe that these are constructive tensions. I have in mind the image of the mechanisms of a clock – the elements are fixed, the cogs provide movement and the weights ensure balance.

But the developing challenge for today is to seek to extend this same idea into the international forum. We will inevitably have differences of view at different stages about how these fora will develop but we all I think recognise the need for this process of international engagement.

The role of the judiciary and our international obligations

I want to turn now to reflect on the role of the judiciary and the whole judicial process in this task of balance our human rights both collective and individual. In your case the Constitution and the Supreme Court provides the anchor. In our case – and interestingly this takes the form of an international treaty – we have the European Convention on Human Rights. Paradoxically, whilst the ECHR offers safeguards and remedies for individuals it does not allow the Government on behalf of the people a right of appeal to the Strasbourg Court.

Some people attack the ECHR for being insufficiently flexible, too much a creature of its time, to meet the challenges of a new age. But I reflect that within its own terms it did allow us after 11 September to derogate from parts of the convention. Article 15 gives us the right to do so if we face “a public emergency threatening the life of the nation” in order to protect other more fundamental rights namely the right to life for those who might otherwise be threatened with terrorism. Surely a practical example of precisely the flexibility that our Lord Chief Justice had in mind in the quotation to which referred a moment ago.

It was of course precisely to block the re-emergence of the pre-war totalitarianism that the Strasbourg Court and the Treaty which it interprets was established.

And the ECHR and for many countries the European Union itself, have been seen as a symbol and practical means of advancing unity, freedom and progress into democracy.

Take Spain. When I first entered politics, Spain was still under a form of fascist rule. And that was true of other European countries too. And the judicial institutions of Strasbourg together with the economic institutions of the European Union have transformed life for all of those countries. We are about to embark another major expansion of the European Union this coming May with the admission of ten new countries to our number.

And so irksome as aspects of it may sometimes seem. We cannot overstate the positive benefits of this form of international economic and legal engagement.

The changing nature of the threat

But just as the world in which our judicial systems must operate has changed so inevitably have the threats to those systems. If the ECHR and the European Union grew up in a world in which the main threat came from a totalitarian state, or a cold war style military power we face today something totally different and far more elusive. I find it helpful to characterise the threat we face as one from ‘franchised’ terror. Groups which have a certain common ideology and set of values, a certain loose chain of command or at least identity, common training perhaps, but often operating independently. Inspired but not controlled by their leaders.

It is an ideology of hate with a target which is the values, the freedom, and the democracy which is seen by our enemies as encapsulating modernity. It is hatred of the very freedoms and communities that are most basic to us. And yet the paradox is that since 11 September more men and women of the Muslim faith have been killed by these people than those of any other, and you see the indiscriminate merciless disregard for human life, rejoicing in the consequences of terror which means that this is declaration of war against humanity rather than against any religion, country, or community.

So let me describe for a moment my reflections as a very new Home Secretary at the time of the attack on the World Trade Centre and the immediate dilemmas I faced. First of course we thought of those most directly caught up in these terrible events. But then and quite properly we thought of when and where was the next attack to come? And in the days that followed working in collaboration with the United States and with our European partners, we quickly saw action which needed to be taken in a number of areas. Both of our two countries introduced new legislation.

But in reflecting now on where we go from here, we have to keep addressing the issue of how best to provide that balanced approach, and as with the quote from Lincoln, what would happen politically if we got the judgement wrong. The debate then would be very different. And in Britain this is a real challenge for the centre left of politics and we will always have in mind the example of Germany where the very weakness of the Weimar Republic was the strengthening of the Nazi cause.

But let me describe for a moment one part of our anti-terrorism, crime and security act perhaps the most controversial part. We were faced with a specific challenge. A challenge from people who had come here often seeking asylum – ironically perhaps from the consequences of their illegal actions in their home countries. Their asylum claims had failed, they were involved in international terrorism. And yet it has not been possible to convict them of criminal offences. Our own adherence to our international obligations meant that we could not remove them to the countries from which they came because of the threat that they would face if returned. I could not justify to the British people a situation in which we simply left these individuals to walk our streets. And so we introduced a new immigration power in the Act which allowed us to detain foreign nationals whom I certified as international terrorists. Because this is an immigration power these individuals are free to leave the UK whenever they chose – as two of the 17 I have certified have chosen to do. The legality of the power and the derogation it required have themselves been tested and upheld in our courts. The individual certifications are all being scrutinised by the Special Immigration Appeals Commission – equivalent to our High Court. Of the 13 cases so far heard, my decision has been upheld in 12. Cases will be reviewed by SIAC every three months thereafter.

But of course we now know more about both the nature of the threat and the potential means of prevention and intervention. In the case of the ACTS Act, the crucial powers of detention I have described are due to lapse in November 2006. That is why I am calling in Britain for a well-informed debate because I want us to find long term solutions which maintain the balance, protect individual rights, and reflect our mutual risk as citizens reliant on democracy for dual protection against terrorism and arbitrary power. I want this to be a public debate too – not just a debate for lawyers. Taking the public with us, whilst listening to the legal experts, makes sense.

Our approach to terrorism

But let me finish by looking at the wider way in which we are seeking to tackle terrorism in the United Kingdom. Our approach has four main pillars to it – prevention, pursuit, protection, and preparedness! Let me take each of these in turn.

Prevention. Perhaps the most important but long term agenda. Domestically it means that we have to engage with the communities most directly being abused by the terrorist cells and their agents. So that they can become our eyes and ears. People themselves being alert, but not alarmed, and helping us.

The same principle applies in reflecting on what feeds the terrorist armoury, but allows them to demonise modernity, namely us. For the hatred which motivates them is often hidden by a cloak which pretends to be concerned about injustice and unjust treatment . So what can we do? We cannot eliminate their threat by removing what they claim to be the causes of their hatred. But tackling injustice would assist us in appealing to the decent, to the thinking, to those looking to take on the terrorist with us but finding themselves in real difficulty. I have recently visited Pakistan and I heard at first hand from people – people basically very well disposed to us – of the extent of the distrust and anger in that country at the way in which Muslim communities, and Muslim suffering throughout the world but especially the Middle-East are perceived to be treated. However much one might disagree with the overall analysis, however much one might explain – as I did – the steps our countries are taking to bring peace to that part of the world, the important thing is to note for these purposes is how powerfully this view held by Muslim communities is believed and felt. In other words it fuels a sense of grievance and injustice which is used by others as a cloak to hide their own more fundamental hatred. We must therefore continue to address these issues and injustices both in our own countries and in the wider world.

Secondly pursuit – again both domestically against known terrorists and their associates but also internationally against the sources of that domestic threat.

I don’t intend to go into the much rehearsed arguments about Iraq beyond the fact that the key issue now for us is the importance of continuing to work together internationally to address the kind of problems I have been describing. It is all the more important that we should do so together and there is a danger that as a result of that conflict countries will feel less inclined to co-operate and work together. This underlines my point that we are in this together, this is all our business, both because we are all the target and so we must have a global response.

Successfully thwarting a terrorist operation requires a co-ordinated international approach. Sharing information, fully engaging with those countries who unwillingly harbour terrorists and themselves are at risk from the network. And I pleased to note that co-operation of this kind is very strong.

This opens for me another key aspect of the debate I have launched back in Britain – namely the balance between the disruption of terrorist activity and its successful prosecution. There is a fundamental challenge here both for Governments and for our police and security services. A challenge made more complex by the fact that often these operations have an international dimension.

The longer you can allow an operation to develop, the longer the surveillance, the more chance you have got of securing conviction, but there is an obvious risk attached to this and those countries like the US which have been subject to an attack will obviously feel that even more keenly than we do. This is a matter of making really fine judgements.

And pursuing terrorists, as we all know, means pursuing money launderers, organised criminals, people traffickers and other smugglers, those exploiting the international banking system, drugs barons and racketeers.

But co-operation, worldwide linkages, and intelligence can work and be effective. This underlines my point about the need for our international systems to develop alongside the way in which our world is becoming more global both in its opportunities for positives such as trade but also negatives such as terrorism.

Thirdly public protection. working together on what you call homeland security. We have, for example, undertaken a major mapping exercise of vulnerable sites in the UK to protect and provide proper advice for those responsible. Again we have had to move on from the cold war mindset and think about other things – food distribution, industrial plants etc. I could talk all night about our work on this but will spare you the details for another occasion.

And finally preparedness. Preparing for the consequences of terrorism. Or course, you could spend half the national income on this and we could still be prepared for the wrong emergency. But public reassurance for political survival and for good operational preparedness is vital. We need to do what makes sense.

This challenge is to corporate responsibility and not just government at every level.

From informed and vigilant individuals through to responsible business this is the challenge to us all.

We are updating our own emergency powers legislation at the moment to provide for a better and more flexible response at regional and local level to any emergencies.

It is a comprehensive but necessary programme of work. It involves us in trying both to master the detail but also to keep sight of the big picture and the challenges which face us. All of which means that the job of Home Secretary has probably changed out of all recognition because we are not simply living with the threat, taking overall responsibility for our response to it, but also weighing up where to place the emphasis, the resources and the expertise in response. Holding your nerve without being complacent. Informing the public without creating fear. Alert but not alarmed. Living with the issues and the danger, but not allowing them to destroy the sense of perspective.

All of us across the world who are close to this face the same difficulties. I reflected with Tom Ridge about this on Boxing Day last year and of course the extent to which we succeed will a matter for the judgement of history. Balancing human rights and the institutions which sustain them with the basic right for life and freedom from fear. Retaining proportionality whilst trying to explain the very real danger and scale of the threat. Doing so when you can only explain part of the case, part of the evidence, and doing so by using the strength of our democracy not undermining it. This is much, much more difficult to achieve in the most open democracies in the world. But we are better for it, with a greater and more worthwhile challenge. That is the nature of the task for us in Britain and the US in the 21st century.

We must and we are taking on that challenge together.