Theresa May – 2005 Speech to the Conservative Group of the Local Government Association

Below is the text of the speech made by Theresa May to the Conservative Group of the Local Government Association on 5 July 2005.

And so, as sure as night turns to day, a General Election defeat has now been swiftly followed by another Tory leadership contest.

Of course we will need, in time, to elect a new leader.

But my concern is that, as usual, we are already rushing to a personality-based beauty contest.

When what we need most is to have a substantial debate about the future of our party.

So my message to our colleagues in Westminster is simple:

Stop looking for quick fixes.

There is no silver bullet.

Put the work in.

Face up to the scale of the problem.

Keep your eyes open, your thinking clear.

And empty your heads of ideological prejudice.

You see, there is a massive job to do, and so far I’m afraid most of our colleagues in Westminster have shown little or no sign that they understand just how big it is.

One of my faults, or so I’m told, is that I have a habit of quoting from Democrat Presidents.

Well tonight I will only quote from a fictional one, every Tory’s favourite Democrat, President Jed Bartlet from The West Wing.

In one episode, he’s talking about the mixed messages he’s receiving from his economic advisers.

“Everyone’s got a magic lever they want you to push,” he says, “…but in this job only a fool is ever certain. You don’t push any one lever. You want to push a little on all of them.”

Bartlet could have been talking about the current Conservative debate.

Because that’s the problem everyone seems to have a single policy answer to the massive problems we face.

For some, that policy is low taxes.

For some, it’s choice in the public services.

And for others, it is localism.

But the truth is that no single policy or idea will be sufficient to rebuild the Conservative Party’s relationship with the British people.

Just look at the evidence in the research published last week by Lord Ashcroft.

His polling showed that through January and February, Conservative policies on schools and the public services were never recalled by more than two per cent of the electorate at any one time.

It was simply not the case that people heard digested and rejected our policies.

They just didn’t think we were worth listening to.

It therefore cannot be the case that a renewal of our policies this time around will be the answer.

And yet here we are in danger of elevating certain policies to the status of ideological cure-alls.

And you know what?

We’ve done it before.

For years, we saw low taxes and privatisation as ends in themselves, rather than as means to delivering the kind of open, free enterprise culture we value.

As a result, people thought us dogmatic rather than pragmatic more interested in pursuing our ideology for the sake of it, than in making a difference to their lives.

We did it again at the General Election, when there was no better example of our failure to connect with people and their values than our approach to the public services.

While people wanted the right to good quality public services, on May the Fifth we offered them the right to choose.

Yes, we aspired to good quality schools and hospitals.

But, while Labour talked the language of aspiration and improvement, people perceived the extent of our vision to be choice-driven managerial jargon.

And now, along with our lingering ideological obsessions with low taxes and choice, a growing number of voices have identified localism as the theory that will mend our broken party.

In recent weeks, some in the party have told us that they’ve found the secret to winning the next election.

They’ve called it localism.

Apparently all we have to do is talk to local people, get interested in local issues, focus on local campaigning, and get involved with our local communities.

What on earth do they think councillors have been doing, day in, day out, year after year?!

But when you get into specifics, you find that the implications of their brand of localism are quite different to what I and, I suspect, most of you have always believed in.

It is a blueprint for nothing less than the almost complete dismantlement of government — at both a national and a local level.

Instead of government, they want to see Britain run by a plethora of locally-elected mayors, authorities, and officials.

A Britain more like America where people have the power to elect everyone from their local MP to their local dogcatcher.

Quite apart from what you may or may not think of this brand of localism, the really important question is who’s going to vote for it?

There are two clear political dangers of a radical agenda that seeks to bypass and replace all levels of government, and that allows people instead to elect their own local police chiefs and school boards

First, the concept of elected boards and authorities has the potential to undermine the long-standing, and genuinely popular, Conservative commitment to civil society and voluntary action replacing it with yet more politicians and elected officials.

For example, how many people, who currently offer their time for free in order to act as school governors, do you think would be willing to put themselves up for public election to a school board?

Second, these policies might sound to us, and to friendly policy wonks, like clear and compelling proposals.

But many voters will choose to hear a far less desirable message.

As far as they’re concerned, the message will be:

“You choose who you want to run things, you elect them, so now it’s your problem, not ours.”

Now I believe our values should include an instinct for local, people-based solutions, over Whitehall-bureaucratic centralisation.

I believe we should always seek to push down power from national government, through local government, and ultimately to people.

And I believe it is through the work of people like you and the base you have established at a local level that the Conservative Party can best approach the long journey back to government.

For the record, I was one of the co-founders of Britain’s leading localist think tank, Policy Exchange.

And I remain a committed localist.

But, I also want to be clear that a local approach to our politics and our policies can only ever be a part of the answer we are looking for.

And, in rushing to narrow policy specifics, my colleagues risk missing crucial wider points about what needs to happen to get the Conservative Party back into shape.

In short, neither localism nor any other single policy idea will ever be sufficient to guarantee the revival of the Conservative Party.

Lord Ashcroft’s polling also showed that, during the campaign, six times as many people saw the Conservative Party as ‘old-fashioned’ rather than ‘modern’. And twice as many people saw us as ‘dishonest’ rather than ‘honest’, and ‘not concerned about people’ rather than ‘concerned about them’.

These depressing results reflected the fact that the Conservative brand is seriously badly damaged.

If we are going to fix that, we will have to accept and respond to the way politics has changed and this is where you, as councillors, are way ahead of the Party in Westminster.

Today, politics is more than ever about individual people and families, and what government can do for them.

It is about making a difference to their day-to-day lives.

I know this because, like all of you, I was once a local councillor.

I was a councillor for eight years, and it taught me a lot.

Not least, I learnt that what people want is delivery on issues that matter, and not warm words and fuzzy jargon.

When I was Chairmen of Education on Merton Council, I was privileged to be able to champion the completion of an incredibly bold programme that was years ahead of its time.

We made sure that there was a free nursery school place available to every three and four year-old child whose parents wanted one.

This was way before central government had woken up to the importance of nursery education for children and their parents.

The lesson of how local councils can lead the way, because they operate at such close range to the lives of the people they are elected to serve, has never left me.

I think the Conservative Party, at a national level, now has to demonstrate that same kind of commitment to delivering the things that really matter to people.

And it has to demonstrate an absolute flexibility of thinking and approach, in striving to achieve those ends.

But initially at least, the Conservative Party has to focus far more on what those ends should be, and far less on the means of delivering them.

The time will come for the policy lever.

But four years away from a General Election, with the world changing faster than ever, this would be a very silly time indeed to start committing ourselves to narrow policy specifics.

So what now, if not policy?

I’ll tell you what.

Values, vision, beliefs, hopes, and dreams.

Now I know that these things are hard to summarise easily.

I know others are looking for answers that are crisper and more tangible.

But the time for ten-word slogans will come.

You see, politics is about people.

Politics is about delivering a vision, based on a core set of values.

Politics is about telling a powerful story with real substance.

Only then can you reduce that story to policy specifics that are snappy enough to influence the ‘ballot-box moment’.

Your story can begin, and it can end, with ten words, or even just five but, in between, it needs to be made flesh with hundreds, if not thousands of them.

That’s why we need to start today not by launching numerous detailed, distinct, and specific policies but by painting vivid pictures, and telling compelling stories, about what life would be like in Conservative Britain.

I believe the Conservative Party’s aim should be to give people security and hope and to help them achieve fulfilment in their lives.

Government alone cannot make people happy.

But it can ensure that its net contribution to people’s happiness and well-being is always a positive one.

So when we, as Conservatives, seek to set people free, to trust them, and to give them the best possible opportunities in life it’s actually helping them fulfil their potential today, and giving them hope for an even better tomorrow.

Because we believe that people, in the pursuit of their own happiness, will take better decisions for themselves that any politicians or bureaucrats ever could.

When we think about issues like healthcare and social security, we should do it knowing that, without such universal safety nets, people would feel hugely insecure.

When we argue for a strong economy and for growing wealth, we should be mindful that they are just means to an end.

Because we know that, by supporting our public services, and by helping people to live their lives as they want, wealth helps to generate security and happiness.

When we consider the values that the British people associate with their country – decent, tolerant, fair-minded, respectful, and equal – we should remember that it makes them feel secure and hopeful for the future to live in such a country.

And we should remember that it would make them unhappy ever to think that their country, or their government, was failing to live up to those values.

And finally, when we argue for tough-minded approaches to things like policing, asylum, or government spending it should not be because particular policies give us some ideological thrill.

It should be because there are growing problems to be dealt with that, if not addressed, will end up reducing people’s well-being in the long run.

Now is not the time for details.

It’s only July 2005 and we should not get ahead of ourselves.

Right now, if we could just begin to convince people that we’re serious about making a commitment to the big and the small things that make their lives that little bit better, then we would have taken a giant step on the road back to power.

I think you, as local councillors, know all this.

I think it’s what you do every day for the residents you serve.

And I think you understand, better than anyone, how politics is all about what you do for people, not about how you do it.

That’s why I believe it’s so important that you play a full part in the election of our next leader.

That’s why I find it ironic that, at a time when my colleagues seem so keen to hand over endless powers to local people, they want to take all powers away from our own local community.

They’ll let you vote for your local sheriff, but not for your party leader.

And that’s why I urge each and every one of you to write to your MPs, to your members, to the Party board and fight for all you are worth to protect your right to have a say in the future of our great party.

Because if we want to change this party, and, ultimately this country for the better we can only do it together.

Theresa May – 2005 Speech on Improving Lives of Children in Care

Below is the text of the speech made by Theresa May on 12 July 2005.

Can I begin by thanking you all for coming here today. The events of the last few days have had a huge impact on the lives of everyone living and working in London. It is a sign of the resilience and determination of the people of London that we are all getting on with our business as usual. And I am doubly glad that you are able to join us today to discuss such an important issue, helping some of the most vulnerable in our society.

As you may know, the Conservative Party is currently engaged in a debate about it’s future direction, and about who should be the person to lead us. We have been given this opportunity by Michael Howard – an opportunity to take time to consider who and what it should stand for in modern Britain. It is an opportunity we cannot afford to waste. That is no idle threat. The reality is that, if we draw the wrong conclusions and set the wrong course as a result of the outcomes of this debate, then it will not only be our party that will suffer. In other words, this isn’t just about us.

Britain needs a strong opposition, it needs a Conservative alternative. Only then can we ensure that the Government is held properly to account, and that we have a genuine debate about the problems that we as a community face. So long as we fail to come up with radical solutions to the ills that are affecting modern society, then we will fail to leave the British public with our vision of a caring, compassionate society. By being seen as not addressing the issues that effect society today, we allow ourselves to be perceived as out of touch with the views of society.

The Conservative Party can do so much better than this. Our approach to politics and policy-making – based on an instinct for people, for local decision making, for trusting charities and voluntary groups, and for supporting civil society – can add so much to the quality of so many people’s lives. We genuinely have a positive and distinct story to tell about how we would deal better with problems like child support, family breakdown, about issues such as children in care, quality housing provision, improved educational standards, enhancing life and job opportunities, and urban renewal.

But if we are to do so we must first remind ourselves that there are no Conservative issues – there are just Conservative instincts, values and methods. That is why it is so important that we should address issues like the one we are discussing today.

As the political landscape has changed and as people’s priorities have changed, so must the focus of our efforts. In a democratic society such as ours, it is nothing less than our duty to do so. If we fail to do so, then we too will be failing the vulnerable in society. The challenge for us as a party is to give voice to our vision of what that society would be like, and how we would achieve it.

And that is why I am so pleased that so many of you have come along today to discuss this vitally important problem. Of course, the problem is that all too often, the work done by everyone sitting around this room today goes unnoticed.

Your difficult and often heartbreaking job of dealing with the aftermath of the breakdown of families, and the devastating effect that this can have on young lives is not glamorous or exciting. Often it is thankless and difficult. On most occasions it only reaches the headlines when something goes wrong. The breakdown in the system, the child that slips through the checks. The Victoria Climbie, the Adam case or the headline grabbing cases of ritual abuse. These are all shocking and terrible. We must never reach a point when such items do not wrench us from our comfortable television viewing, or shock us to the point of silence.

But what is equally as shocking, is that throughout this country, there are children who aren’t slipping through the net. They aren’t the children who will be headline grabbing cases of abuse or neglect. They are just the children who never quite get the life they deserve. The children who are quietly resigned to a life that they and that we should not accept. Everyday, there are too many children to whom this tragedy happens.

It isn’t because people don’t care enough. It isn’t because government or councils, social workers or charities aren’t concerned by the problem. It isn’t for any of those reasons. But it continues to happen, day in and day out. Young lives that should have been so happy and so promising are filled with tears, young people destined for a life on the streets, in and out of work, or even in prison.

These aren’t doomsday words, set out to paint the blackest picture to score political points. Many thousands of children leave care with hope and in families who love them. But too many children do not.

The figures speak for themselves. There are more than 61,000 children in care, the highest figure in over 20 years, an increase of 20% since 1997. More than 13 % of all looked after children were moved to a new placement three different times last year, 12 % of which were children under the age of 2, when emotional attachment and stability is so important.

But the harsh realities of life in care do not get any better as children get older. Despite the efforts of social workers and teachers, more than 1 in ten children in care miss 25 days of school or more a year. 6 in 10 children leave care without achieving a single GCSE to their name, and only 1% go on to university.

Government have failed miserably to achieve the target they set themselves that 75% of children leaving care should achieve a single GCSE. That the government has failed is not the thing that should lead us to take action. The thing that should force us to take action is the acceptance by government that one GCSE, one single qualification, in any way equips these young and vulnerable people for a life in the real world.

Whenever we hear government trumpet its aim to encourage 50% of all young people to go to university, we should all remind them, whether we vote Labour or not, that only 1%, a miserable one in a hundred children from care ever make it to university. This is a scandal that none of us would accept for our own children. Yet every day, we accept it for the children of others. Children that we the state, are supposed to care for.

How can we say that these are “looked after children”. The Government have the best of intentions and have made headway. But surely, if we are truly to “look after them” we must do more than resign them to a life that for many is without hope – where they are two-and-a-half times more likely to become teenage parents, where between a quarter and a third of people sleeping rough on the streets were in care as a child: where a quarter of those in our prisons were in care as children; we can and we must do better!

There are of course many good things going on to help these children. There are many initiatives to support families and prevent children being taken into care in the first place, and we will hear some examples later. There is some magnificent work to support such children in school, to help them achieve their goals, and make an independent and successful life for themselves. And there are many hardworking people, social workers working under difficult conditions, foster parents giving the time and the love that children need so badly, people working to reunite families, and to make new families and new homes for so many children., who are working day after day to give hope and a better life to these youngsters.

What I want to hear about today is how we can help. What more can we do? What can we as politicians do to help you make a better lives for our children? All our children deserve the best chances in life. We must work together to deliver them a better life.

Theresa May – 2005 Speech to Conservative Party Conference

Below is the text of the speech made by Theresa May to the Conservative Party Conference held on 3 October 2005.

“It’s great to be back amongst so many friends.

When I was Chairman, I met thousands of you as I visited constituencies across the country.

I know how hard you all work — not just at election time, but week in, week out — to spread the Conservative message.

And, as an MP, I know that none of us would be here without you.

So thank you.

Of course, if you listened to the Liberal Democrats before the election, I wasn’t supposed to be here at all.

Well so much for Mr. Kennedy’s decapitation strategy.

There’s only one head that Liberal Democrats want to see roll now.

And that’s yours Charlie!

I want to talk this afternoon about the next Conservative Government.

Not just about what we will do when we are in power — as if we only have to wait four more years before it happens.

But about the roadmap — the hard work and the tough choices — that will take us there.

Government is about people.

And right now, the people of this country need our help more than ever.

But, if we are to win the opportunity to help them, and to change life in Britain for the better…

There are three things we will have to do.

First, we are going to have to change the way we conduct our politics.

Tony Blair chose to use his first major speech after the election to talk about restoring ‘respect’ on our streets.

Can you imagine how sweet those words sounded to someone whose life is affected daily by Britain’s drink-fuelled yob culture?

And then think how they feel now with the Prime Minister insisting on 24-hour drinking laws.

Cheated, betrayed, conned.

And a little less likely to trust anything a politician promises, ever again.

There is a problem with respect in Britain.

We do need urgently to restore respect for people and property.

But it’s more than that too.

It’s the respect for government that has been steadily eroded by years of broken promises.

And it’s the respect for government that we will have to restore — if we are to persuade people there is a better way.

You see, the status quo always favours the incumbent.

Labour know that no-one trusts them, but they still won in May, so they don’t care.

All they care about is that no-one trusts us either.

So we have to change that.

It won’t be easy.

I know some people say that the main job of the opposition is to oppose.

And, as an opposition, the temptation is always to throw the punch — to grab the headline.

But we’ve done that for eight years.

And where has it got us?

The real job of this Party — the real way we will win people’s respect — is to stop being today’s opposition and start being tomorrow’s government.

So, from now on, we will have to be scrupulously honest and painfully reasonable.

We’ll have to stop opposing for opposition’s sake — and resist all temptation to be opportunistic.

And we will have to show people what we stand for — and then stick to those ideals and principles — even when that means supporting the Government if they get things right.

The second thing we have to do is reform our Party.

We have to show that we are a Party comfortable with Britain as it is today.

A Party representative of men and women — of every age, race, and religion.

A Party as at home in the cities as it is in the country.

A Party as confident about the future as it is about the past.

And we must reflect that — not just in our words — but in our attitudes.

In today’s Britain, the vast majority of people regard equality between man and women as so obvious it doesn’t even need stating.

And yet, for too long, in too many parts of this Party, the assumption has been that politics is a man’s job.

And the other parties aren’t much better.

But Margaret Thatcher proved that your ability to lead your country depends on your talent and your courage, not on whether you are a man or a woman.

And for the small minority who don’t accept women — or black or gay people — as their equals, I’ve got a message.

Don’t think you’ll find a refuge from the modern world here.

There is no place for you in our Conservative Party.

Because every day that we are unwilling to embrace a future in which all men and women respect each other as absolute equals — is another day we will be out of government.

But I’m optimistic.

I know we’re moving forward.

That’s why our benches have been swelled by great new MPs like Adam Afriyie, Shailesh Vara, Maria Miller, and Anne Milton.

I know that all of you, the real Conservative Party, are with them and with me.

And anyone who wants to stop us had better get out of our way.

I spend much of my time focusing on how the Conservative Party has to change.

I do it for a reason.

I want us to win.

And not just win, but govern — and govern well.

That’s the third thing the Conservative Party needs to do.

Focus on exactly what it means to govern well.

In 1979, the bonds of state dependency were obvious.

They tied down our economy and made us a laughing stock.

Today, the bonds of state control are often invisible.

But they are there — and they are tightening.

The difference is that New Labour prefer to run everything remotely by dictat and regulation.

That way they get to interfere all they want, but can pass the buck when things go wrong.

We should be willing to turn all that on its head.

I want us to reject BIG government — government that tries to do everything and ends up achieving nothing.

The hands-on, control-freaky, government-knows-best mindset that Labour, new or renewed, can never escape.

But I want us to reject SMALL government too — and with it the assumption that politicians have no responsibility for peoples lives.

So let’s put the myth to rest once and for all.

Size doesn’t matter!

Just because government is often part of the problem…

Doesn’t mean it can never be part of the solution.

Instead, I want the Conservative Party to stand for GOOD government.

Government’s job is helping people live their lives — throughout their lives — as they raise and protect their families, build their careers, and save for their retirements.

Listening to people’s needs, and taking responsibility for the things that matter to them.

Making sure they get the education and healthcare they deserve, keeping them safe, providing a fallback should life take a wrong turn, and helping them with the childcare or the care home place they need but can’t afford.

Of course, we all know that, often, the best thing government can do is simply stay out of the way.

To allow people to give their time freely to help others — as I know so many of you do.

But sometimes, to do its job, government needs to get stuck in.

So good government has to be prepared to be active, strong, and effective — whenever it needs to be.

Good government should be both idealistic and pragmatic.

Idealistic in what it aims to achieve.

Ruthlessly pragmatic in how it sets out to achieve it.

There is no need to choose between the two.

And if it does its job well, the impact of government can be enormously beneficial.

If it does it badly, it can be oppressive and corrosive.

Labour don’t understand that.

We do.

If the Conservative Party could only change the way we conduct our politics, and restore respect in government…

Then people would take a fresh look at us.

If we could show not only that we are comfortable with modern Britain — but that we reflect modern Britain…

Then people might listen to what we have to say.

But they won’t listen for long if we don’t hold their attention.

We don’t just need to convince them that we want the things they want — world-class education, better healthcare, safer streets.

We need to show them— how we can make it happen.

And we won’t KEEP them interested — if we just talk about dry academic concepts like localism, decentralization, and the size of the state.

So let’s start speaking the language of people — talking about the concrete things we would do to improve their lives — focusing on what should happen in the public services, not just on how they are structured.

Because if we paint a picture of the good Conservative Government that we know we can be — then we can win the next election.

I stand before you today as the Conservative Party’s first ever Shadow Secretary of State for the Family, and for Culture, Media, and Sport.

Supported by my excellent team, Malcolm Moss, Hugh Robertson, Hugo Swire, Andrew Selous, Tim Loughton, William Astor, Arthur Luke, and Trish Morris.

You know, I’ve been struck recently by the similarities between politics and sport.

Just a few years ago, England lost to New Zealand and we were called the worst cricket team in the world.

This summer England beat Australia — to become the best in the world.

So have faith — anything is possible if you work hard enough to achieve it.

The other highlight of the summer was London winning the Olympic Games with the bid team lead by Seb Coe.

Wasn’t it great to see a Tory winning a vote against the odds?

Winning AT the Olympic Games requires years of sacrifice, hard work, and single-minded dedication.

Winning an election is much the same.

A successful athlete must give up the nights out and the fast food.

If the Conservative Party is going to win the gold medal in four years’ time — it too is going to have to give up some enjoyable but ultimately damaging vices.

Ya-boo, opportunism, intellectual self-indulgence, ideological obsessions, quick fixes, and easy answers.

I’m afraid they’ve all got to go.

But then there’s something else as well.

London’s bid to host the Olympic Games involved not just graft but vision — not just perspiration but inspiration.

And that’s what we, the Conservative Party, have to offer too.

You see, you can win a race without the crowd on your side — by training hardest, by being the best.

And, of course, you won’t win if you’re not.

But you can’t win an election like that — no matter how good you are.

To win an election — to be confident of victory — you have to inspire people — you have to make them want you to win.

I hardly need to tell you how successful the Conservative Party can be — when it inspires people with the possibilities of change and progress.

Margaret Thatcher inspired people.

She gave them a glimpse of a better future.

And she delivered it!

So let’s inspire people again.

Let’s find that confidence and belief that for so long we seemed to have lost.

The confidence to dream.

The belief in our power to achieve.

This week we begin to set our new course.

We have four years’ of work in front of us.

They will go past in the blink of an eye.

So we have to choose the right path — right now.

Let’s remind people what a Conservative Government can achieve.

Let’s inspire them with what the next Conservative Government would achieve.

And let’s be ready — once again — to transform our great country.

Theresa May – 2005 Speech on Women 2 Win

Below is the text of the speech made by Theresa May on 23 November 2005.

I think today could mark a turning point for the Conservative Party. What is clear from what you have heard is that throughout our party, at every level, there is a growing realisation that we must change. And fundamental to that change is the role of women within the Conservative Party.

What this event has proved, without a shadow of a doubt that championing the cause of women in our party is no longer a minority sport. For a while there it seemed somewhat of an exclusive club – myself, my Shadow cabinet colleague Caroline Spelman, and a few doughty supporters.

But today that is simply no longer the case.

6 members of the Shadow Cabinet, former cabinet Ministers, senior members of the House of Commons and newly elected alike. Candidates, constituency chairman, activists, we all agree that we must ensure that more conservative women are elected to parliament at the next election. They have all chosen to sign our Women 2 Win declaration.

And perhaps most importantly, this view is shared just as equally by men in our party as it is by women. You will remember that just a few weeks ago, 6 male MPs were brave enough to put their heads above the parapet and say that it was time we took positive and radical action to guarantee more women candidates. Since then, a number of others have joined us. This is no longer an all girls club, the men have gate crashed the party.

I have been told by a number of senior labour MPs and journalists that the Labour party didn’t take electing women to parliament seriously until the men began to realise the impact it had on voters. The cut through that having women in senior positions, developing policy, and talking to the public had on the voter’s view of the labour Party.

And it worked. As we have heard, in 1997, Labour led the Conservatives among women by 12 points. And they have continued to lead us ever since.

Well the good news, the news that should cheer every member of our Party, and make the Labour benches sit up and take notice, is that now we realise it too.

Not all of those believe that the answer is all women shortlists. Not all believe that an ‘A’ list or a gold list is the best solution. But what we all agree is that waiting and hoping for more women to be elected is never going to deliver the results we need.

Women 2 Win is the signal that the Conservative Party is determined to win back the women vote and to win back power. It is a sure sign that we know what has to be done to represent modern Britain, and that we are prepared to take those steps.

Over the coming months and years, we will work to ensure that more women re selected. We will raise the profile of Conservative women in the Party and in the media. We want to raise the money to provide the training and support they need.

We want to work with the Party, with candidates department and training team to ensure that the finest candidates we can find are selected to represent our Party

And we want to arm our candidates with the skills they need to win back seats from Labour and the Lib Dems at the next election.

But of course, we can only play our part. As I have said, the support for our aims is wide ranging, and it is continuing to grow. But there are two people who we need to recognise what needs to be done if we are to guarantee success.

Of course, I am talking about the David’s!

It is a little known fact that there are more men in the Shadow Cabinet called David than there are women.

It is for that reason, that Women 2 Win are making this challenge to anyone who views themselves fit to lead our party and to govern our Country. Over the course of the remaining leadership election campaign, make clear your commitment to reform the Conservative Party into a Party that represents, reflects and understands Britain today. We urge you to sign up to the women 2 win declaration, and make a positive commitment to securing our parties future success.

In short recognise what we all recognize. That the Conservative Party really does need women to win!

Theresa May – 2005 Speech on the Causes of Crime

Below is the text of the speech made by Theresa May, the then Shadow Secretary of State for the Family, at Conservative Central Office on 22 April 2005.

Drugs are at the root of a lot of crime, especially violent crime. They ruin families and destroy communities too. As the dealers and junkies take over, families move out, turning neighbourhoods into ghettos.

We cannot afford to sit back as drugs ruin more families and destroy more communities. We need a coherent, committed, consistent anti-drug programme.

Some people say that drugs are a matter of personal freedom. I disagree. It’s time we stopped blurring the distinction between right and wrong. We need to send a clear message: “Drugs are wrong”. No quibbling. No hedging.

Increasing drug abuse is not inevitable. Look at America where drug abuse by young people has declined. In two years there has been a more than ten per cent drop in the number of high school pupils taking illicit drugs – the first fall for a decade.

Why? Well partly because American children are getting a clear message about drugs – that they are wrong, that they aren’t glamorous, that they ruin lives.

But here in Britain youngsters all too often get mixed messages. We have a government that tells children what to eat – that sweets and crisps make you fat – but isn’t prepared to take a clear line on cannabis.

That is why a Conservative Government will reclassify cannabis – sending a clear message that the drug is dangerous.

And we’ll fund a major advertising campaign with a clear, consistent anti-drugs message.

We’ll tackle drugs at school too.

Head teachers need to be able to take firm action against drugs at school.

So the Conservatives will help schools introduce random drug testing, if parents and teachers want it.

We will provide the resources for testing machines in every local authority area.

Life is too precious simply to be written off – we have to give youngsters who get hooked on drugs the chance to get back on the straight and narrow.

All the evidence shows that residential rehab is the most effective means of treating addicts.

But in Britain today there are fewer than 2,500 residential rehab places available.

A Conservative Government will expand this massively, providing 25,000 residential places for hard drug users where they can spend six-months getting intensive treatment to get them off drugs.

That’s enough to help 50,000 addicts a year.

It will allow us, over the course of a year, to treat every young teenage drug addict in Britain.

And we will give the police the power to send young drug addicts ‘straight to treatment’ at a residential treatment centre without first going to court.

Young drug users will be faced with a choice. Take up these places and come off drugs. Or go to court and face the possibility of time in prison.

There will be no soft option or half way house. Young drug abusers will have to face up to the consequences of their actions. They will have to seek treatment or accept that they will be punished by jail.

Those that do seek treatment will have a fresh start. They will not face criminal proceedings and will not have a criminal record. That’s what we mean by the chance to change. Those that refuse treatment, or who do not complete their course, will be sent to court for their case to be dealt with by the criminal justice system.

Too many people in Britain today think that there is little or nothing that we can do about problems like drugs. Conservatives think differently. We don’t promise the earth. But we are committed to tackling the problems that matter to families today.

We will implement a coherent, consistent committed anti-drug programme.

The potential rewards are enormous. Imagine helping a generation of addicts back into society so that they can once again make a contribution to their communities. Imagine tackling one of the root causes of violent crime. Imagine passing on to our children a safer, more secure society than the one we have inherited.

It’s an ambition worth fighting for. David will now set out our action plan on violent crime.

Gordon Brown – 2005 Speech at TUC Annual Conference

Below is the text of the speech made by Gordon Brown, the then Chancellor of the Exchequer, at the TUC Annual Conference on 13 September 2005.

Let us today on this day of celebration for a great English national sporting success congratulate the England cricket team. And let us congratulate London on winning for Britain the Olympics for 2012.

And let me add a personal note. This is a time when we also remember men and women who have served the trades union movement and our country – in particular this year Ron Todd and Jim Callaghan – and only a month after their unexpected and early deaths, I know all will want to join me in paying tribute to two other titans of the labour movement – both of whom died tragically and unexpectedly, both who died in their fifties far too young, both who died after distinguished careers working for causes close to the heart of the trades union movement, two who died with such a huge contribution still to make.

Mo Mowlam was the people’s minister – an inspiration to women everywhere – and let us agree that there must now be a fitting memorial to her work and achievement.

And the passion of Robin Cook’s commitment to social justice was and is an inspiration to all who were influenced by him and in every continent. Inspired by Robin’s example let us affirm, as he did, that whenever there is injustice, we will seek to eradicate it, wherever there is poverty we will fight a war against it.

And Tony Blair and I want to thank each one of you for your efforts and achievement in putting right at the centre of the agenda causes which Tony and I share with you:

The cause of full employment

The central importance of manufacturing

The moral and economic case for decent universal and free public services available to all

And – as the Warwick agenda to which we jointly committed demonstrates – fairness to all in the workplace.

And I am here today to tell you that Tony Blair and the Government will, as a priority, put into place this year and next the legislation honouring in full the Warwick agreement.

So let me assure you that we will implement our agreement that no-one should see their health or safety recklessly put at risk in the workplace and so we have announced legislation outlawing corporate manslaughter.

Let me assure you that on gangmasters we will licence and regulate employment so that we protect lives by rooting out dangerous abuses.

Let me also tell you that we are legislating for enhanced rights at work with the eight-week rule extended to twelve. And on holidays and working hours, we are moving to add Bank Holidays to four weeks paid holiday.

Fairness at work means fairness to the low paid and it is because of your efforts and the initial commitment of John Smith and then of Tony Blair that Britain now has a minimum wage; one that I am pleased to report will rise again this year – rising by 40 per cent since it was introduced – and again next year. And the legal minimum wage is now extended for the first time to all 16 and 17 year olds.

And because Britain has historically neglected child care we are now implementing, as a result of Warwick, a new national child care strategy. And because women’s rights and women’s equality have been unacceptably neglected for far too long we are even now studying recommendations from Margaret Prosser, chair of the Women and Work Commission. Our aim: to move to ending once and for all the gender pay gap.

Having introduced the first winter fuel payment of £200 for the first time, free TV licences worth £100, the first pension credit paid to over two and a half million people, free local bus travel, we will, as we said at Warwick, – and this is the debate we should have when the Pension Commission completes it work – respond to the new Pension Commission investigation into the capacity and limits of the current voluntarist system by seeking to make sure that not just some but all workers have the chance of security and dignity in retirement.

And let me add because it is morally wrong that when firms go under, workers through no fault of their own lose their pensions too, so in partnership we have set up the new Pension Protection Fund, and for pension funds that have previously gone under we have already put aside £400 million.

Most of all on the future of our economy – and this is the central theme I want to discuss with you today – since 1997 we have been building a Britain that is not only more stable than at any time for a generation, but a Britain that has used its stability for a purpose –  unemployment the lowest for 30 years, long-term youth unemployment once 350,000 young lives written off, now less than 7,000 – restoring  full employment to the  centre of economic policy  and bringing us closer to full employment than at any time in our generation.

I tell you I will never forget how, starting as an MP in 1983, in a constituency with thousands unemployed, I met hundreds of coal miners, steel workers, shipbuilding craftsmen thrown out of their jobs at fifty who expected never to work again, young couples who having lost their jobs lost their homes too, youngsters once bright eyed and hopeful, rejected and dejected even before they had a first pay cheque.

So none of us must forget how the experts wrote off three million unemployed, how the commentators fell for unemployment as an inevitability. Let us remember how many lost heart and succumbed to the propaganda that as manual tasks were mechanised, as digital and computer technology replaced the jobs of skilled workers, that we should bury for ever the idea that we could ever have an economy founded on full employment.

But we never lost heart, we never fell for this defeatism, we never surrendered our goal of full employment. And when we passed resolutions for jobs, marched for jobs, rallied for jobs, campaigned for jobs, we were upholding to the world ideals we still uphold to this day. We were arguing not only that mass unemployment is unfair and inefficient, but sending out an even bigger message, the philosophy I grew up with in a mining and industrial community in Fife: that we do not pass by on the other side, that our mission is to build communities where we look out for each other, feel each others sorrows and share each others pain. It is a belief that injustice should not happen to us: injustice should not happen to anyone, principles we taught each other in hard times, of solidarity not selfishness and as relevant today as ever.

So when people tell us again that the impact of global change, the rise of China and Asia, mean we have to lower our aspirations, when they tell us that as manufacturing becomes global, we must accept that full employment and good decent paying jobs are now not there for all who need them, I tell you: in the same way that together we met the challenge of mass unemployment by applying our principles in the New Deal and went on to create in eight years an unprecedented two million jobs, we should agree now that – as long we make the the right long term decisions we can meet and master an even greater challenge – the challenge of globalisation.

Let me tell you the scale of the global challenge.

In the last eighteen months the doubling of oil prices is just one visible sign of the scale and speed of global economic change: Asia’s manufacturing output now greater than Europe; Asia now consuming 30 per cent of world oil and China almost 10 per cent; once only responsible for 10 per cent of world manufactured exports, Asia and developing countries will soon produce 50 per cent. On its own china already produces 30 per cent of the world’s television sets, 50 per cent of cameras, 70 per cent of photocopiers, even 90 per cent of children’s toys – and perhaps soon 60 per cent of all the world’s clothing.

At no point since the industrial revolution has the restructuring of global economic activity been so dramatic; at no point has there been such a shift in production, Asia moving from the fringes to the centre of the new world economic order; and at no point in our whole history has the speed and scale of technological change been so fast and pervasive.

Think back only to 1997: no digital TV, no DVDs, no video phones, no broadband, virtually no texting. Just eight years ago: only ten per cent people were on the internet and only ten per cent had mobile phones.

So if in only eight years since 1997 we have seen such dramatic technological and scientific change, then think of the impact in the next eight years of technology on occupations, industries, businesses and jobs.

And this is not, as is sometimes said, a race to bottom with China and India that can be met by protecting our home industries, shutting foreign goods out, and hoping the world will go away.

Because they aspire not to race us to the bottom but to be high skill, high technology economies, China and India are now turning out more engineers, more computer scientists, more university graduates – four million a year, more than the whole of Europe and America combined. And so the answer lies not in protectionism, hoping Asia will go away, but in radically upgrading our skills, science and technology

For me, nothing in the next years is more important than preparing and equipping our nation for meeting and mastering these global challenges ahead. And I do not disguise the scale of changes ahead so that we British working people can instead of being the victims of globalisation, be its beneficiaries.

And I want us now to work together on a long-term economic reform plan for global success. And today I issue an invitation to the TUC and trades unions here, as well as business, to enter into a discussion with the Treasury and the Government in detail on how a more skilled, more adaptable and more enterprising Britain, can make the right long-term decisions and succeed in the next stage of the global economy – so that facing future economic challenges greater than since 1945, mastering technological and trading changes more dramatic than in any century of our industrial history, we can – working together in the interests of prosperity, not for some but for all – ensure that we can turn global change from a threat into an opportunity.

Our education system geared to empowering young people with training and skills opportunities for realising their potential they never had before; our welfare state reformed to ensuring adult men and women can move from low skills to high skills, matching flexibility with fairness; and our science infrastructure upgraded so British inventiveness leads the world; European economic reform to open up markets for British firms. Every part of our infrastructure transport and communications geared up to the challenge of global change.

Our whole focus: to stand up for Britain, to ensure that Britain does not once again relapse into decline and failure.

Let me tell you – and particularly our manufacturing unions – that the global challenge strengthens rather than lessens the case for investment in manufacturing and in our regions.

As we agreed with you at Warwick, we will give new support to manufacturing by investing in science, technology, our transport and infrastructure and in the manufacturing advisory service. And the manufacturing forum – now up and running with full trade union representation – is today, at your request, looking at public procurement so that British companies are no longer unfairly denied contracts and markets across key sectors of the European economy and that British workers and Britain industry secure a fair deal.

Honouring our promise that manufacturing should not be seen as part of the old economy but that together we build modern manufacturing strength for the future.

And if China and India are turning out four million graduates a year, then we cannot afford to waste the talent of any child, write off the potential of any young person, discard the abilities of any adult.

It is because the skills of workers are the new commanding heights of the economy, it is because the skills of working people are now the most critical means of production, it is because increasingly it is the skills of working people that gives companies value and gives nations comparative advantage, that new principles must guide education and training in ensuring good well paying jobs for the future: education should no longer be from five to sixteen but on offer from three to eighteen, every teenager should have the right to further education, and every adult the guarantee of training in basic skills.

So let us salute – in each of the unions – today’s trade union pioneers of the new skills revolution: the 12,000 men and women who are trade union learning representatives rightly bargaining for skills, the 100,000 who have been helped back into learning in over four hundred trade union learning centres, over two million workers succeeding in learn direct and the skills for life programme, and the employer training pilots which are breaking with the old failed voluntarism of the past and ensuring that in return for time off, workers have the financial support to obtain the new skills they want and need.

And I can tell you today that to support the new trade union academy we will provide over the next two years £4.5million – part of a total investment of £8billion a year in skills, showing we will answer the Asia challenge, not by becoming resigned to a Britain of low skills and high unemployment, but by creating a Britain of new skills and new jobs.

And I tell you straight: Britain can win in this global economy. We will win because we will not compete on low pay but on high skills; we will win because we will not respond to globalisation by lowering our standards in the workplace but by raising them; and we will win because we will not adjust to global change by protectionism and neglecting investment but by investing more and for the long term.

This is nothing less than the economic battle for Britain’s future and upon winning this battle by focusing rigorously on the priorities that matter most – the future financing of our public services, the war on poverty, the potential for full employment in the years to come depends.

And I also tell you straight – in the face of that global challenge from which there is no hiding place, no safe haven other than equipping ourselves better for our future – if we are to succeed there must be no return to the fiscal irresponsibility, the economic short termism, the  inflationary pay deals and the old conflicts and disorder of the past; there can be no retreat from demanding efficiency and value for money as well as equity as we renew and reform public services; there is no future for a global trading nation like ours in trying to erect protectionist barriers with the rest of the world. And just as we need stability in inflation and interest rates, we need stability in our industry policy, stability in industrial relations, and stability in our trading relationships with the rest of the world, and we build this stability for a purpose: for it is the one sure route to full employment for our generation and to prosperity for all.

And at every time we must act to tackle the risks to stability and growth, risks that are today already reducing European growth rates to one per cent and raising European unemployment beyond twenty million, risks that now have risen from the doubling of world oil prices.

 

Global challenges need global solutions.

It is because we understand the problems faced by hauliers, farmers and motorists at a time of doubling oil prices and because we will never be complacent that the first action we must take is to tackle the cause of the problem: ensuring concerted global action is taken to bring down world oil prices and stabilise the market for the long term. And in the last few days alone I have discussed our plans with thirty of the world’s Finance Ministers and spoken to representatives of all the world’s leading economies.

First, because this is, at root, a problem of demand outstripping supply, OPEC must respond at its meeting on 19 September to rising demand by raising production.

Second, lack of transparency about the world’s reserves and plans for their development undermine stability and cause speculation. The world must call on OPEC to become more open and more transparent.

Third, from the additional $300billion dollars a year in revenue OPEC countries are now enjoying and the additional $800 billion available to oil producers there must be additional new investment in production and global investment in refining capacity.

Fourth, the search for alternative sources of energy and greater energy efficiency is urgent to ensure both the maintenance of economic growth and tackling climate change, and the World Bank should set up a new fund to support developing countries investing in alternative sources of energy and greater energy efficiency.

Fifth, poor countries and poor people should not ever be left defenceless against oil and commodity price shocks and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) should agree, as a matter of urgency, to create, a new facility for countries hit by these shocks.

And because we have a special duty to help not just the immediate needs but the long-term prospects of the poorest of the world, oil producers should now agree to use their windfall revenues to create a special trust fund where oil producers help debt ridden poor countries write down their unpayable debts.

At each point willing to take the tough long term decisions.

And it is by securing economic prosperity and insisting the benefits go not just to the few but everyone, that we will achieve another goal – to build world-class public services in Britain.

Let me say, that because of our commitment to public services and their renewal we are extending the local government agreement right across the public sector to bring to an end the two-tier workforce.

And let me here, publicly from this rostrum, thank Britain’s public servants who – in those anxious hours facing the terrorist threat on 7 July and beyond rose to the challenge and worked tirelessly – showing bravery, dedication and commitment to tending the wounded, comforting the bereaved, protecting the anxious and serving the public first.

Let me take this opportunity to say publicly what is often left unsaid and taken for granted, and thank all our emergency public services. Workers in our hospitals, from the doctors nurses and nursing auxiliaries to porters, ambulance men and women, cleaners, and catering staff – men and women who show not only exceptional skill and professionalism but every day also demonstrate extraordinary care, compassion and friendship.

Teachers and the teaching assistants, the school dinner ladies and caretakers who at their very best show with their dedication day in and day out that every child and every child’s future counts.

And in our communities, public servants and local government workers pioneering new services from child care and job-help to neighbourhood wardens, carers whose unbelievable compassion and support can transform despair into hope, home helps and support staff whose commitment and humanity show that public service can be a calling and not just a career.

And proving that Britain can be a beacon to the world for high standard free universal public services.

For there is, indeed, a second reason for winning the battle here in Britain for our generation for universal free public services, so that not just British people benefit but that we can offer new hope to developing countries too.

For, as Tony Blair, Jack Straw and Hilary Benn will tell the world at the special UN Summit that starts tomorrow on making poverty history, it is only by building universal free schooling and creating free universal health care that the people of Africa and developing countries can begin to eliminate illiteracy disease and poverty.

In my eight years as Chancellor I have visited some of the poorest parts of Asia and Africa. I have seen the faces of people crushed by poverty upon whom all the troubles of the world bear down; I have met mothers in Asia who in using every ounce of their energy to save the lives of their new born infants are about to lose their own; I have heard children in Kenya demonstrating and chanting the demand for  ‘free education’; I have met mothers in Mozambique who waved their pay cheques at me demonstrating that no matter how hard they worked they could not afford to pay the fees for schooling  their children; I have met some of the twelve million aids orphans excluded from both education and any health care; and I met only a few weeks ago in Tanzania an Aids victim  who could not afford a visit to a hospital or to a doctor or to pay for any drugs to relieve his pain saying  to me – “I know I am despised but are we not all brothers?”

I tell you for the one hundred and twenty million children who did not go to school today and for the 30,000 children who face avoidable death from disease today, there is not a chance to escape disease, illiteracy and poverty if they are charged for health care or if there are fees for education, no hope at all for the poorest communities and the poorest people without free and universal public services.

Make Poverty History is the theme chose by your President for this week. And let me thank you, Brendan, who spoke at that weekend Make Poverty History rally we attended in Edinburgh and let me thank every trades union for your work, in the finest internationalist traditions of your movement, as a driving force in the Make Poverty History coalition.

And let me congratulate you for your key role in winning at Gleneagles for the first time in our history one hundred per cent multilateral debt relief; in exposing agricultural protectionism and the scandal and waste of the common agricultural policy; in securing a commitment not just to double aid to Africa but from eleven European governments to 0.7 per cent of their national income spent on development – demonstrating the truth of the belief on which our movement was founded that as individuals we are not powerless but, acting together we have the power to shape history.

But I say to you today: as we look to the future, and recognise not just what we have done together but must now campaign upon in the coming years, let the new demand from trades unionists, from churches and faith groups, from make poverty history campaigners all over Britain and all over the world be that to truly make poverty history, Africa must win the battle we have had to fight and win in Britain: there must be universal and free schooling and health care as the beginning of justice for the poorest countries of the world.

And when people say financing free universal health care and schooling for the worlds poor is an impossible dream, I say: two hundred years ago people said an end to slavery was an impossible dream; one hundred years ago people once said a British welfare state free schooling and a free NHS in Britain was an impossible dream; just twenty years ago people said Nelson Mandela’s release and the end of apartheid was an impossible dream; and just a year ago the same kind of people said one hundred per cent debt relief for the highly indebted countries was an impossible dream.

Our ancestors knew how much easier it was to be unambitious rather than to aim high: simpler to be conservative than to seek change; less difficult to take your own share than fight for everyone to have a fair share; more comfortable to see progress as moving up on your own than ensuring everyone moves up together; less demanding to succumb to vested interests than take them on. But instead our pioneers held fast to the vision that progress is everyone moving forward together.

And as we look at the challenges ahead – building in this new global economy full employment, modern manufacturing strength, ending child and pensioner poverty, the best public services and, yes, the elimination of poverty around the world – let us agree that the finest traditions of our movement is not to settle for second best, but to reach high, never to lower our sights but to strive to make once unrealisable dreams come true.

In the spirit of the highest ideals of our movement, let us acknowledge the great causes worth fighting for.

A society founded on equality

Driven forward by a commitment to justice

Dedicated to fairness for all

A Britain worthy of our pioneers

A Britain true to our ideals

And we achieve our ideals best when we achieve them together.

Gordon Brown – 2005 Speech at SCIAF 40th Anniversary Lecture

Below is the text of the speech made by Gordon Brown, the then Chancellor of the Exchequer, at the SCIAF 40th Anniversary Lecture in Edinburgh, Scotland on 7 October 2005.

We have always said action on debt and aid must be matched by action on trade. Indeed if it is not matched by action on trade, it undermines all the work on debt and aid. And we know the difference trade can make.

If you think back 40 years ago John F Kennedy said that the purpose of the 1960s trade round was the opportunity to help developing countries like Japan – and so it did as Japan grew to become a mighty economic power.

Now the purpose of this trade round is to help today’s developing countries flourish and lift millions more out of poverty.

We are but nine working weeks away from the world trade talks.

And the right action needs to be taken not just as Ministers arrive in Hong Kong, but in the vital weeks and days that lie ahead in the run up to Hong Kong.

A few days ago Pascal Lamy told me that this was a development round to be judged by its impact not just on the richest countries but on the poorest.

So as we prepare for and then resume the talks on world trade, our job, Europe’s job, America’s job, is to be on the side of opening the markets of the rich to the poorest of the world.

And if we are to avoid the debacle of Seattle and the disappointments of Cancun the richest countries must agree to move. The key to progress is progress on agriculture, for most of the worlds poor still depend on agriculture for their livelihood.

We must address the trade rules that not only prevent poor people from throwing off the shackles of poverty, but shackle poor people and poor communities still further – put an end to what people in the poorest countries rightly see as our hypocrisy of developed country protectionism.

So our test at Hong Kong will be holding to the commitment we made in our election manifesto: to press for the conclusion of an ambitious trade deal that will completely open markets to exports from poorer countries.

Because we know that every dollar paid in aid to help the poor is cancelled out by 6 dollars paid in trade subsidies to the rich and that three quarters of exports by farmers from Sudan to Tanzania to Uganda compete with subsidised goods in rich countries, we must expose the waste of the Common Agricultural Policy and our test at Hong Kong will be setting a 2010 timetable to end agricultural export subsidies.

Because we know that European agricultural tariffs are on average four times higher than for manufactured goods and that meat farmers seeking to import into Europe face 300 per cent tariffs, our test at Hong Kong will be that these tariffs be cut.

Because we know even with fair access it will take time for poor countries to compete globally and that trade reforms must fit with a country’s own development programs – our test will be agreeing there can be no forced liberalisation, but instead to allowing poor countries the flexibility to decide, plan and sequence their reforms.

And because we know we know that it is not enough to simply open the door, but that we must help  people and communities cross the threshold, and that today the World Bank estimates that for traders in 24 of the world’s poorest there is neither the infrastructure nor the communications to compete fairly, that costs for Africans transporting goods from village to town to port are twice those for Asians and that telecommunication charges for people calling from poorest countries to the USA five times those of a developed country, our test will be equipping them, through investment, with the capacity to compete, so companies – like the sugar factory I visited in Mozambique – can take advantage of trade with the rest of the world.

And let me say that Britain will contribute to increased investment and I call on other countries to do the same – so we send a clear message that the trade round which started as the development round should end with the richest countries making it possible for the poorest countries to benefit from trade.

But building capacity to trade is about more than investment in infrastructure, it must also be about investment in people and their education and health. And the test of whether the richest countries will keep this year’s promises for the doubling of African aid, the test of the 11 countries moving to 0.7 per cent, the test will be precise and concrete: whether education and health in Africa and developing countries is properly funded and we move forward to meet our millennium education and health goals, schooling for all children by 2015 and eliminate avoidable infant deaths

And so what I want to argue for this evening is a distinct advance in the way we campaign over the next two years and what we campaign for.

For visiting Africa and Asia has brought me to the view there will be no schooling for millions of Africans unless there is universal free schooling, and confirmed my view that there can be no effective health care that will genuinely come to the aid of the poorest of Africa unless it is universal free health care.

What are my most vivid memories of visiting Africa earlier this year?

I tell you: scores of mothers, sugar factory workers, in Mozambique waiving their pay cheques and demanding to know how they could ever afford, no matter how hard they worked for their family, to pay the fees for their chidlrens education.

In Kenya, children chanting slogans “free education, free education”.

In Tanzania a 12 year old girl standing over her brother suffering form HIV/AIDS, wanting to become a doctor to help cure him. Bright-eyed with huge potential, but instead of the chance of medical education, about to be thrown out of her school education because her family could not afford the school fees

Outside Dar es Salaam a town meeting when teenage boys with determination to study that had accosted me demanding to know why with the ability they had they could not get help for the fees to stay on at school and obtain qualifications.

User fees for education – sometimes as much as a quarter of the annual income of a poor household – are the single biggest barrier to increasing the number of children in education across sub-Saharan Africa.

And when we do abolish school fees, we see the difference it makes.

Think of 2003 when, because of aid, Kenya made primary school free on just one day more than one million children turned up to enrol for school for the first time; one million children who the day before had no education; one million chidlrens who on that day started to learn, develop, grow flourish, started to fulfil their potential.

And when in 2004 fees were abolished in Malawi because of higher aid, enrolments increased by 50 per cent.

In Uganda making education free because of debt relief increased the numbers of school pupils from 3 million to over 5 million.

So let no one say aid and debt relief don’t make a difference and politics never works – what doesn’t work is doing nothing

The total cost of bringing free primary education to all children in Africa and South Asia is just  $10 billion a year – the best investment the world could ever make. Just think: for every person in the richest part of the world it is less than two pence a day.

And we should think long term about education too: long term consistent sustained and predictable funding for buildings, equipment and teachers.

And that is why by using the international capital markets to borrow for the long term and raise more money for the investments we need now, our proposed International Finance Facility – which would pay for the extra $10 billion a year we need for education, indeed raise total aid immediately by $50 billion a year – is so important.

Breaking free of the stop go and halting sporadic approach to aid which prevents countries planning ahead: frontloading investment in education; guaranteeing it for the long term; achieving in our time the dream, of universal free decantation for every child. And so enabling children to break from the vicious cycle of dependency to a virtuous cycle of skills and self-sufficiency.

Friends the difference between free education and charges is between opportunity offered and opportunity denied. But we all know that the difference between free health care and health user charges can be between life and death.

And because to be effective, health care has to be available on a predictable and sustainable basis, new funds – perhaps $20 billion a year – needed to tackle HIV/AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis and to build the capacity of health care systems through our International Finance Facility is the best way forward for health care too.

And here we must with innovative long term finance mechanisms seize not squander the new opportunities that medical breakthroughs offer us to save lives.

In Mozambique I have visited the factory where in a clinic they are successfully testing the first ever anti malaria preventive vaccine. But because no African country can afford the costs of the vaccine, 2 million people will continue to die painful deaths every year unless we the rich countries fund the development and distribution of this vaccine.

And I have talked to doctors and scientists trying to find a vaccine that could prevent HIV/AIDS, but I know that the only way the world can underwrite this research fund anti retroviral drugs and as we have promised by 2010 treat all AIDS sufferers is to fund free medicine

But let me tell you about why our idea that the world can come together with the long term finance required need no longer be a distant prospect.

Let me tell you about the pathbreaking International Finance Facility for Immunisation, launched just a month ago with the gates Foundation, European Governments like ours and a great woman to whom the world owes so much – Gracha Machel. And on which I am pleased Shriti Vadera – who many of you will know has worked tirelessly on these issues both at the Treasury and until recently as a trustee of Oxfam – will play a key role in advising GAVI (the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation and the Vaccine Fund over the next few months.

In five years GAVI has inoculated more than 90 million children. Part of a great life giving movement that has virtually eradicated polio and small pox

Yet today over 10 million children die each year from diseases like malaria and tuberculosis that could be prevented.

So we have agreed to borrow long term creating an International Finance Facility for Immunisation which will, by frontloading aid, immediately invest an extra $4 billion of funds in vaccines.

And let me tell you what that facility will do.

Remarkable but true.

In the next ten years with this one facility we will save the lives of 5 million children and adult, 5 million who would otherwise have died.

And in the years after 2015 another 5 million more.

And if by one small fund in some small area of health, with one intervention of vaccination, we can achieve this – save 10 million lives – then think of what, by working together, underwriting medical advance, public private partnerships for research, exchanging staff and ideas building capacity an International Finance Facility with far more money can do for the relief of poverty, illiteracy and illness and I appeal for your support in moving this idea forward.

Ivan Lewis – 2005 Speech at BSA Financial Services Conference

Below is the text of the speech made by Ivan Lewis, the then Economic Secretary to the Treasury, at the BSA Financial Services Conference on 15 September 2005.

Opening Comments

1. Let me first thank the Building Societies Association for inviting me to say a few words this morning.

2. As the trade association for our country’s building societies your voice is always worth hearing – and I am honoured to speak with you all today.

3. It’s certainly a pleasure to be able to stand before you, and say with confidence that the macroeconomic framework we delivered has allowed unprecedented and stable economic growth – with low unemployment and sustained low inflation.

4. We have before us today an environment that benefits long-term planning – that promotes social justice in general, and reduces the need for short-term precautionary saving in particular.

5. And with household sector net wealth up by around 50% in real terms since 1997 – now worth over £6 trillion – this is an approach that has clearly worked well.

Importance of the Sector

6. And if we take the financial services industry on its own – if we take building societies alone – the UK clearly stands out, both in terms of quality and with the diversity of products on offer.

7. With 63 building societies and total assets of around £250 billion, you are a major part of our financial services industry.

8. Not only that, but around 15 million adults have building society saving accounts – and over two and a half million adults are currently buying their own homes with the help of building society loans.

9. So as mutual institutions, you occupy a niche that is clearly important to Britain’s modern, economic well being.

10. And perhaps you’d expect me – a Labour minister – to also appreciate a one member, one vote system – regardless of how much money each person has invested or borrowed or the number of accounts they may have. You’d be right.

Asset Based Welfare

11. But let me say – it’s partly because of your position in the industry – and the nature of your work – that I want to spell out a few of the things we’re doing at the moment. Specifically, I want to talk about Asset Based Welfare – and the direction of travel in the months and years to come.

12. Asset based welfare is vital to Britain’s long term success – to our continued realisation of social justice and economic progress in the 21st century. We are a wealthy country, and we are in many ways very fortunate. But there are significant elements in our society – too many people – who still do not benefit.

13. That’s why addressing the needs of those people – dealing with financial exclusion, increasing financial capacity, giving kids a real financial future – is important. And it’s why we emphasise asset based welfare as one solution.

14. The aim of an asset based approach is to extend the benefits of holding assets. That means, for example, owning a house or having a stock of savings for those who currently do not hold such assets.

15. And the so-called “asset effect” says that there are benefits for individuals in holding an asset which go beyond its basic monetary value.

16. These benefits are both psychological and attitudinal, and it is this philosophy that led to the introduction of the Child Trust Fund and Saving Gateway pilot savings scheme that I’ll come onto later.

Financial Inclusion

17. So let me start by being blunt on these issues – let me start with financial inclusion.

18. We are absolutely committed to tackling financial exclusion – and we’ve made some good progress since the 1999 Policy Action Team Report.

19. Many of those recommendations on basic banking, credit unions and insurance with rent are now in place.

20. But financial exclusion is a scar on our body financial. It is a an issue that can never be ignored or pushed down the collective list of priorities.

21. Why? Well, in 2002/03 there were 2.8 million adults in households without a bank account of any kind.

22. What’s worse – what really paints the picture – is that over two thirds of these people were in the lowest income deciles.

23. I know you’re some of the best placed people in the industry to appreciate this. You know that households which operate solely on a cash budget are unable to make savings via direct debits on utility bills.

24. They’re more vulnerable to loss or theft and they are far more likely to use the alternative credit market – and pay interest many times that of a standard personal loan.

25. And I know you realise that can be the start of a spiralling debt cycle. That for those who do get into debt or who struggle to make payments, the supply of free face-to-face money advice can still fall far short of demand.

Financial Action Now

26. That’s why we’ve taken action. We set out some months back the next steps in tackling financial exclusion in three priority areas – access to banking, access to affordable credit and access to free face-to-face money advice.

27. And we’ve established a framework for delivery – including a Financial Inclusion Fund of £120 million over three years and a Financial Inclusion Taskforce, chaired by Brian Pomeroy to oversee progress.

28. What’s good is that both industry and government share the aim of reducing financial exclusion.

29. We’ve agreed to work together towards the goal of halving the number of adults in households without a bank account, and of having made significant progress in that direction within two years.

30. And to improve access to credit, we’re working towards a scheme where – in certain circumstances – private and third sector lenders can apply for repayment to be made by deduction from benefit, particularly where normal repayments arrangements have broken down.

31. £10 million of the Financial Inclusion Fund has been allocated this year for the development of this scheme. A Growth Fund will also be set up from within the Financial Inclusion Fund to promote the coverage and capacity of third sector lenders in providing affordable loans.

32. But we also want to see a significant increase in the capacity of free face-to-face money advice. The DTI are administering £45 million of the Financial Inclusion Fund to support that end.

33. So a further £6 million will be used to pilot methods of debt advice outreach for those who do not present themselves to debt advisers.

Financial Capability

34. But in many ways, this is a two-step. On the one hand, exclusion remains a major challenge – and this is the first big task.

35. On the other hand, we must be relentless in our pursuit of better capability – ensuring that our people have the skills and understanding of finance to properly deal with financial products. That is our second big task – and one that we have to tackle at the same time.

36. I doubt anyone in this room would not want better informed, better educated, more confident citizens. People able to take greater responsibility for their financial affairs and play a more active role in the market for financial services.

37. That’s why this second step – building up financial capability – is about providing consumers with the education, information and generic advice needed to make their financial decisions with confidence.

38. Many consumers are still far from confident in the decisions they make about their financial circumstances and future – something picked up on with the Sandler Review.

39. So those efforts to improve levels of financial capability are a key element of our wider commitment to tackle the cause and effect of social exclusion – and to do so while promoting the holding of assets and savings.

Saving & Assets

40. Doing that – ensuring people have assets and savings – is key to success. Its important for the building societies and banks, but it’s also important for us as a society.

41. After all, assets and savings provide both opportunity and independence throughout life. They give flexibility to adjust to unforeseen events and financial security in retirement.

42. So gaining access to even modest savings can help provide both security and insulation from adverse shocks.

43. And to reflect this, our strategy is both universal and progressive. We want to make asset ownership accessible to all – and we have acted to achieve that by targeting support for those who need it most.

44. For example, by giving over £2 billion in tax relief every year, through changes to benefit rules, better regulation, financial education and direct public spending.

Child Trust Fund

45. Key to making this work is engaging the younger generations – our kids now, and in the future. That’s why products like the Child Trust Fund are so important.

46. As a groundbreaking initiative designed to strengthen the saving habit of future generations – it will ensure that at age 18, and for the first time in our history, every child will have access to a financial asset.

47. And as of the 20th August, just over 889,000 accounts had been opened.

48. What’s more, there are now over 110 official providers and distributors, many more than announced at the launch in January.

49. This includes a wide range of institutions from across the financial services industry – from friendly societies to some of the largest institutions across the UK. And the list grows.

50. We’re even now consulting on making a further payment into Child Trust Fund accounts at secondary school age – so I hope you all see how seriously we continue to take asset based welfare.

51. So this Fund is a vital element in our savings strategy, which aims to ensure a range of savings products is available to suit people at all stages of their lives.

52. What’s more, it will build on real financial education with a savings and investment account for children to engage with. It will help boost their confidence as they use the account and deal with financial providers.

Stakeholder Range

53. More widely, though, one of the recent findings that certainly made us sit up and take notice was from the 2002 Sandler Review.

54. Amongst other things, Ron Sandler highlighted that:

“the industry suffered from complexity and opacity, from problems of access for those on low to medium incomes, and from the inability of consumers to drive the market effectively.”

55. And that’s why initiatives like stakeholder pensions are so crucial. With sales of just over 2.5 million stakeholder pensions since their launch, they have become an established and accepted product – and an easily understood one at that.

56. Stakeholder is clearly a core component of our wider assets and savings strategy, offering people four simple, low cost, risk-controlled savings and investment products.

57. And what’s more, they’ve had a visible impact on promoting asset based welfare – especially as stakeholders are now being bought by moderate earners, with two-thirds now held by people earning less than £20,000 a year.

58. I even announced on Monday at the launch of the Stakeholder awareness campaign that indications are over half of all Child Trust Fund accounts opened so far are Stakeholder accounts.

59. And I certainly know that building societies lead the field with provision of cash Child Trust Fund accounts – and as with all providers, that you also offer Stakeholder accounts.

60. So I hope you’ll agree that this is very encouraging news for achieving the best returns for our nation’s children – and for the future of the stakeholder range itself.

Closing Remarks

61. So let there be no doubt – asset based welfare is here and it’s here to stay. As long as there are exclusion and capability issues to address, this government will continue to examine ways to improve support.

62. From the Child Trust Fund through to better face to face help. From the savings gateways – which I haven’t gone into today, but which are another key plank – through to stakeholder products.

63. This is how a decent society can achieve maximum impact on the challenges of 21st century living.

64. It is how an effective government and a responsive industry can work together to ensure sustainable economic success and social justice is achieved and future generations are better off than those of today and yesterday.

65. Thank you all.

Michael Gove – 2005 Maiden Speech in the House of Commons

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Below is the text of the maiden speech made by Michael Gove in the House of Commons on 7 June 2005.

Thank you very much, Madam Deputy Speaker, for allowing me to catch your eye and giving me the opportunity to make my maiden speech in the House of Commons. Whatever any of us may have done before coming to this House, speaking in the Chamber for the first time is a nerve-racking moment, and I am therefore grateful for the courtesies that the House extends to new Members during their maiden speech.

I feel a particular sense of nervousness coming after the hon. Members for Bristol, East (Ms McCarthy), for Newport, East (Jessica Morden) and for North Ayrshire and Arran (Ms Clark), and my hon. Friends the Members for Shipley (Philip Davies), for Braintree (Mr. Newmark), for Wellingborough (Mr. Bone) and for Beverley and Holderness (Mr. Stuart), who all gave accomplished speeches.

The hon. Member for Newport, East spoke with great charm about her constituency and with great force about her passion for social justice. The hon. Member for North Ayrshire and Arran follows in the distinguished footsteps of Brian Wilson and a hero of mine, Sir Fitzroy Maclean. She is a worthy follower in that tradition. She spoke without notes but with great fluency and conviction. The hon. Member for Bristol, East also follows in distinguished footsteps, and she lived up to that in a speech of great wit and authority.

My hon. Friend the Member for Braintree spoke with great force and persuasiveness. He gave a maiden speech in the best traditions of the House and I congratulate him. My hon. Friend the Member for Shipley gave a witty and forthright speech which I greatly admired, and my hon. Friend the Member for Wellingborough gave a personally powerful and principled speech on which I congratulate him. My hon. Friend the Member for Beverley and Holderness also spoke without notes but with tremendous aplomb and authority. I wish them all well in their careers in the House.

This Bill is of particular concern to my constituency of Surrey Heath, which is an economically vibrant home to both multinational companies and a wealth of small and medium-sized enterprises. There have been a number of distinguished contributions to this debate. The hon. Member for Newcastle upon Tyne, North (Mr. Henderson), as befits a former Foreign Officer Minister, ranged far and wide in his remarks. Other Members, such as the hon. Member for Eastleigh (Chris Huhne), were rather more tightly focused. With your permission, Madam Deputy Speaker, I hope to be a little less than tightly focused and to use this opportunity to look at the broader themes underlying the Finance Bill.

As the son of a small business man who ran a flourishing fish merchants in Aberdeen, at a time when that city’s fishing industry was in ruder health than today, I know personally how regulation and legislation conceived from the best of motives can stifle enterprise and limit opportunity.

Any opportunities that I have in life I owe to my parents and to the sacrifices that they made. They adopted me when I was just four months old, and I was fortunate therefore to be raised in a secure and loving home. That has left me with a profound sense of the importance of helping families to withstand all the pressures placed on them by modern life, and I hope in my time in this House to do what I can to improve the lives of children born to disadvantage and to support all parents in the difficult but immensely rewarding task of raising families.

Before turning to the legislation that is before us, I should like to pay tribute to my predecessor as MP for Surrey Heath, Nick Hawkins. Nick served for 13 years in this House, first as Member for Blackpool, South and latterly as MP for Surrey Heath. During his time here, Nick set an example as a diligent and caring constituency MP, as well as a robust and principled scrutineer of legislation. During my time as a parliamentary candidate and in my brief weeks as an MP, I have met many constituents for whom Nick was an indefatigable champion; he set a standard that it would be difficult to match. I also know, not least from his many friends still in this House, how valuable Nick’s sharp legal brain was in the scrutiny of legislation. Nick’s belief in defending the principles of our common law and standing up for the liberty of the individual do him great credit, and I wish him well in the legal career to which he has now returned.

Following in Nick’s footsteps is a challenge, but it is made far easier by the charm and friendliness of the people of Surrey Heath. It is both an honour and a pleasure to represent the most attractive and vibrant constituency in the county judged by “Country Life” to be England’s most beautiful. I know that there may be some dissent among my hon. Friends, but as a flinty Scot, and someone who therefore judges English beauty with an unclouded eye, I can only say that I concur with the judgment of “Country Life”. Surrey is indeed God’s own county; it combines the best of England’s civic traditions with large areas of still unspoilt rural charm.

Camberley is the largest town in my constituency. I am sure that memories of it will be dear to those hon. and gallant Members who passed through the Royal Military academy or the Staff college, both of which lie in its precincts. Camberley’s particular charms are not, however, known only to those who pass through the RMA’s gates. Thanks to John Betjeman’s most famous poem, “A Subaltern’s Love Song”, the romance of Camberley is well known:

“nine-o’clock Camberley, heavy with bells,

And mushroomy, pine-woody, evergreen smells”

is how he immortalised that beautiful town. While the scent of Camberley is now tinged with the odour of fumes from the M3, which cuts a swathe through my constituency, there is a still a pine-woody and evergreen quality to the town that is very pleasing to this Scottish exile.

John Betjeman is not the only great writer to have drawn inspiration from the air of Surrey Heath. John Gay’s “The Beggar’s Opera” draws on the history of Bagshot heath in my constituency as a haunt of highwaymen and cutpurses. “The Beggar’s Opera” is a satire in which comparisons are drawn between the highwaymen of 18th-century Surrey and the politicians of 18th-century England; both, John Gay suggests, were charming rogues who made it their business to deprive honest citizens of hard-earned money, only to squander the plunder on their own vanities. I will leave it to other Members to decide what relevance, if any, John Gay’s insights have to discussion of this Finance Bill.

One area where I believe that public investment continues to be more necessary than ever is in our security, and I want to touch briefly on that matter. The contribution of the military to the life of my constituency has been, and continues to be, immensely valuable. As well as the Royal Military academy, Surrey Heath also benefits from our association with the military in many other ways. Our excellent local hospital, Frimley Park, works closely with the Royal Army Medical Corps to provide a matchless service for the whole community. We also house the headquarters of the Royal Army Logistics Corps, and it was on the heathland of the Chobham ridges that the world-famous Chobham armour was developed, which has helped to give our armed forces the protection that they need on the field of battle.

I hope that during my time in this House I can play a small part in giving our forces the support that they richly deserve. Britain’s contribution to extending the cause of liberty has been distinguished, and it is a source of pride to me. In a proper spirit of bipartisanship, I pay tribute to this Government for their role in defending the cause of freedom in Sierra Leone, Kosovo and Iraq. I hope that it will not be considered wrong of me, however, to pledge that I shall use my position here to ensure that in future those who risk their lives on our behalf are given all the support—political, moral and financial—that they need.

The tradition of public service that the military exemplifies is richly alive in many other ways in my constituency. We have some of the best state schools in the country, a superb hospital in Frimley Park, as I said, and thriving voluntary organisations as well as active parish councils that serve our more rural communities such as Chobham, West End, Bisley, Bagshot and Windlesham. But the quality of life that the people of Surrey Heath enjoy and have done so much themselves to maintain is, I fear, threatened by insensitive overdevelopment. Plans to build tens of thousands of new homes in our area, imposed by an unelected and unwanted regional authority, combined with planning guidance that demands an increase in housing density, is wholly detrimental to the character of our communities and risks placing great strain on already overstretched public services.

I firmly believe that all parties in this House in the past 25 years have ensured that power has become too centralised. Decisions are now taken at too distant and remote a level. Intimate questions of planning should be decided by the local people most affected. Planning decisions affect the social capital that individuals and communities have built up over generations. That is why planning law must be seen to be fair, responsive and sensitive. In Surrey Heath, like many other rural areas, we have suffered as a consequence of a small minority—I must stress, a very small minority—of Travellers, who have defied the planning rules by setting up unauthorised encampments on greenfield sites. I hope, while in this House, to be able to change the law in such a way as to ensure the fair application of planning rules. I appreciate the contribution that Britain’s travelling community has made to our national life over many generations, but equality before the law is the best guarantee of civilised treatment for all.

As I said, one of the many attractive features of Surrey Heath is its economic vibrancy. We are lucky to have in the constituency a wealth of local entrepreneurs, including Bob Potter OBE, whose Lakeside hotel in Frimley Green is globally renowned as the home of the world darts championship, thus demonstrating that one does not have to risk going on to Ministry of Defence property in Surrey Heath to see targets being hit with rare skill.

We are also fortunate in employment terms in the opportunities offered to us by multinational companies that serve my constituency, such as Eli Lilly, BAE, Novartis and S. C. Johnson. All those companies are excellent corporate citizens playing a valued part in the life of the community as well as generating jobs, wealth and taxes for the Exchequer. It is with their contribution in mind that I want to say a few words about the precise measures in the Bill.

I recognise the need for legislation to reform the tax system and to limit tax avoidance, and there are many provisions in the Bill that may take us in the right direction, but I am concerned that in their zeal to regulate the Government may risk damaging Britain’s competitive position. Retrospective and arbitrary changes to the tax code do not contribute to the atmosphere of stability and certainty that encourages investment. As my hon. Friend the Member for Runnymede and Weybridge (Mr. Hammond) pointed out, chapter 4 and clause 39 give cause for concern, as they seem to create the power for arbitrary and retrospective application of the Revenue’s powers. I find that a worrying element of the Bill.

Historians of this House will know that our finest hour came in the 17th century, when we in Parliament insisted on limiting the arbitrary powers of the Executive to impose taxation. In that battle between king and Parliament, I have no hesitation in saying that Parliament was on the right side. I know that the right hon. Member for Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath (Mr. Brown) sometimes revels in his reputation as a roundhead; it is a great pity that in this legislation he should be so cavalier with the tax code.

To my mind, the best way of preventing tax avoidance—I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Runnymede and Weybridge—is through tax simplification. At a time when economies in eastern Europe are making themselves more attractive to international investment by radically simplifying their tax codes, we should not go down the road of further complicating our own tax system.

I believe that my constituency has equipped itself well for the challenges of the 21st century by staying true to eternal British virtues—keeping what is cherishable and distinctive, celebrating excellence, having a pride in tradition, but always looking outwards. I hope that we can adopt a similar approach as a nation. Our economic strength has been built on sound traditions and an awareness of the importance of low and simple taxation, light and flexible regulation and wise and prudent investment. When we stray from those traditions, we undermine our future prosperity.

I want to thank you, Madam Deputy Speaker, for your indulgence in calling me, and in particular, I want to thank very much the people of Surrey Heath for giving me the opportunity to serve them in this Chamber.

Ed Balls – 2005 Maiden Speech in the House of Commons

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Below is the text of the maiden speech made in the House of Commons by Ed Balls in the House of Commons on 25 May 2005.

It is a great honour to make my maiden speech in this House on this, the final day of debate on the Queen’s Speech, to follow the thoughtful speeches of my right hon. Friends the Members for Torfaen (Mr. Murphy) and for West Dunbartonshire (Mr. McFall) and to follow a series of excellent maiden speeches, not least that of the hon. Member for Preseli Pembrokeshire (Mr. Crabb), which together show that we can look forward to a number of thoughtful and constructive contributions in the debates of this House in the years to come.

This is the first maiden speech by a Member of Parliament for Normanton for 22 years. Bill O’Brien, my predecessor, was a hugely respected MP, whose commitment to improving the lives of hard-working families in our area is beyond question. Almost everyone I have met in our constituency has a personal story to tell of how Bill has helped them, a friend or a family member. I know, too, that he is widely respected in the House for his parliamentary experience, for his detailed knowledge of mining and local government matters and for his wisdom. I have been told by many hon. Members how they have turned to Bill for advice and support during their parliamentary careers.

I also want to mention Bill’s family and in particular his wife, Jean, who has also served for 22 years, as an MP’s spouse. It is my considered view, speaking from some personal experience, that the role of the MP’s spouse is not always fully appreciated at a political level. I want today to set the record straight: Jean O’Brien has consistently been by Bill’s side, a tower of quiet strength and dignity. I am sure that all hon. Members will want to wish them a long and happy retirement from the Commons and to thank Bill for his commitment to public service.

I have had the privilege of speaking to many hundreds of voters in the past year about issues that directly affect their daily lives—pensions, skilled jobs, plans for a new hospital at Pinderfields, out-of-school child care and the need for more police and community support officers on the beat. All those issues I will be actively pursuing in the coming months. As we have talked, time and again I have heard and felt first hand the powerful traditions that run deep through Normanton.

My constituency forms an arc around the north of the city of Wakefield, running from Sharlston and the town of Normanton in the east, through Altofts, Stanley, Outwood and Wrenthorpe to the north, and then round to Ossett and Horbury in the west, all linked together by the M62 and M1 motorways, which intersect in the constituency. It is a constituency united by a strong industrial tradition in manufacturing, railways and coal mining, and by a long-standing civic, trade union and co-operative tradition. In our district, the Co-operative party is our conscience, and I look forward to participating actively as a member of the Co-operative group of Labour MPs.

Most important, Normanton boasts a historic Labour tradition, with the longest continuous Labour representation of any seat in England—a continuous representation, that is, since 1885, when the Liberals stood aside for 12 working-class Lib-Lab candidates. We are proud of Normanton’s Labour tradition, matched only by the Rhondda valley in south Wales, and if I may be so bold, long may it continue.

We are now in a time of great change, as the revolution of globalisation transforms communities such as ours, but these challenges of technological change, foreign visitors and new investors are, for us, nothing new. Few constituencies can boast visitors as distinguished as Queen Victoria, Prime Ministers Gladstone and Disraeli and US President Ulysses Grant, all of whom visited our area in the mid-19th century, Normanton being, for passengers travelling north to south in the pre-buffet era, the restaurant stop of choice.

One visitor above all left his mark: the Emperor of Brazil, Dom Pedro II, who stopped for lunch in August 1871, heard about the local colliery at Hopetown, arranged a visit and caused such a stir that the pit shaft was renamed Dom Pedro and became known as the Don. The emperor also visited the Normanton iron works, was shown a special rail and immediately ordered a batch to be sent back and used in the expansion of the Brazilian railway.

To us, globalisation is nothing new, and well over a century later the same strengths that made my constituency an industrial leader—our strategic location, our manufacturing expertise and our skilled work force—are now the key to our future prosperity. It is the task of the Wakefield Way steering group, on which I serve, to ensure that we exploit those advantages to the full. We want to see the Wakefield district established as a key logistics cluster, and a centre of industrial and manufacturing expertise.

We also have to be honest about the weaknesses that we must address. We still have too many people trapped on incapacity benefit, who want to work but need extra help and support to return to work. Compared with other parts of Yorkshire, we have skills shortages  alongside low levels of qualifications in the adult work force. It is both an affront to social justice and a real economic threat that so many 16-year-olds in my constituency still leave school without a proper qualification. I therefore welcome the measures set out today by the Chancellor of the Exchequer in this Queen’s Speech debate on science, skills, employment, housing and regional policy, which will really help us in that task.

We are able to debate today how our wider economic policy can build on stability—rather than, as used to happen, how we can avoid stop-go—because the Labour Government have put in place a new British model of monetary and fiscal policy for our country and taken the tough decisions to establish and entrench economic stability. Twenty years ago, the Wakefield district was labelled a “high unemployment area”, with one young person in every four unemployed for more than six months as a result of the devastating loss of manufacturing jobs and the closures of the pits. It was not a price worth paying. Today, because of our economic stability, our district has an unemployment rate, not above, but below the national average. The new deal has cut youth unemployment from a peak of 3,300 young people out of work in 1984 to just 130 today—20 in my constituency. It is because of the proactive and forward-looking approach that Labour has taken to economic policy—Bank of England independence, the symmetric inflation target and the two fiscal rules—that, for the first time in a generation, my constituents are benefiting from what is close to a full employment economy.

That stability—that prudence—has been for a purpose. We have shown that a Government committed to progressive goals—increasing investment in our public services, introducing a national minimum wage, lifting 1 million children out of poverty—can also deliver the lowest inflation for 30 years, the lowest mortgage rates for 40 years and record levels of employment. Some said that a Labour Government could not run a stable economy and pursue progressive goals. The present Government have proved them wrong.

At this point, I must confess that, yes, as a young economist working in opposition back in 1994, I wrote that truly immemorable phrase, “post-neoclassical endogenous growth theory”—but there was a penultimate draft from which that infamous phrase had been excised, and it was not I but a rather more distinguished Member of this House who wrote in the margin, “Put back the theory.” From 1997, I was proud to serve the Labour Chancellor and the Labour Government for seven years as economic adviser and then chief economic adviser to the Treasury. I was privileged to chair the International Monetary and Financial Committee Deputies during a period in which Britain, under the leadership of the Prime Minister and the Chancellor, have led international efforts to reform the international financial architecture and meet the millennium development goals.

I know that those opportunities—all the opportunities that my family and I have had—were made possible only by the achievements of the Labour party in government. My grandfather, a lorry driver, died from cancer soon after the war, when my father, the youngest of three boys, was only 10. My father—from a widowed family in a working-class community in Norwich—was able to stay on at school at 16 and get a scholarship to university. All the opportunities that he and we have been able to enjoy were made possible only because of the welfare state that the Labour Government created in 1945, reflecting our core belief that opportunity should be available for all, not just for the privileged few.

I am now able to be in public service once more, as a Member of this House and as Labour’s ninth MP for Normanton. My Labour predecessors—Benjamin Pickard, William Parrott, Fred Hall, Tom Smith, George Sylvester, Thomas Brooks, Albert Roberts and Bill O’Brien—were all coal miners, every one of them. They were Labour because the adversity they suffered taught them not selfishness, but solidarity. However insurmountable the obstacles seemed to be, they never settled for second best for themselves or anyone else in their struggle for full employment and social justice. I hope that, in the coming years, I shall be able to demonstrate the humility, hard work and commitment to public service for which previous Normanton MPs are known, remembered and honoured, and thus enable my constituency’s historical traditions to live on renewed in this century. We owe it to our predecessors, as we owe it to our families and to future generations, to complete their work and, on the platform of stability that we have built, secure an economically strong and socially just society of which we can be proud.

I thank you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, for giving me the opportunity to make my maiden speech today.