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

michaelgove

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

balls

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.

Stephen Crabb – 2005 Maiden Speech in the House of Commons

Stephen Crabb
Stephen Crabb

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

I am grateful for the opportunity to make my maiden speech on the final day of debate on the Queen’s Speech. It was a pleasure to listen to the maiden speeches by my hon. Friends the Members for Northampton, South (Mr. Binley) and for Mid-Bedfordshire (Mrs. Dorries), and by the hon. Members for Plymouth, Devonport (Alison Seabeck), for Worsley (Ms Keeley), for Blaydon (Mr. Anderson) and for Westmorland and Lonsdale (Tim Farron). I wish them all the best in their parliamentary careers. I would like to add my own tribute to those that have already been made to the right hon. Member for Torfaen (Mr. Murphy) for his excellent work, both in Northern Ireland and in the Principality.

I count it a huge honour to be elected as the new Member for Preseli Pembrokeshire. I am only the second Member to represent the constituency, which was created before the 1997 election, when it was won by Jackie Lawrence, and again in 2001, for the Labour party. Jackie retired at the end of the last Parliament. She and I were opponents in the election held four years ago, and we both fought robust campaigns. The more that I saw of her during that election, however, the more that I was struck by the sincerity and humanity with which she carried out her duties as a Member of Parliament. She entered Parliament for exactly the right reasons—to improve the lives of Pembrokeshire people—and served her constituents well during her eight years as an MP. Her parting remark to me on election night in 2001 was, “Best of luck with your parliamentary career, Stephen, just not here in Pembrokeshire.” I am afraid that I have disappointed her, but it was typical of her integrity and grace that not only did she send her congratulations after my win on 5 May but, last weekend, she welcomed my family and me to her home, where she passed on some excellent advice on being a Member of Parliament and treated us all to excellent home-made scones. I am sure that Members on both sides of the House will join me in wishing her all the very best in retirement.

Preseli Pembrokeshire, with much justification, can be described as one of the most beautiful parliamentary constituencies, containing as it does much of the Pembrokeshire coastal park with its 185 miles of footpath running alongside scenes of spectacular beauty. The coastline is important to Pembrokeshire. We are surrounded by the sea on three sides, and that has been the source of our comparative economic advantage throughout our history. Even today, after whaling, fishing, oil refining and defence-related industries have all flourished and then declined, the sea is still important to our local economy.

We have two ports: Fishguard, with its ferry service to Rosslare in Ireland; and the port of Milford Haven, which is the UK’s fifth largest port, with major oil interests, a remnant of the fishing industry, and an Irish ferry from Pembroke dock. As I speak, construction is under way on two major liquefied natural gas terminals near Milford Haven. When completed, those could provide 30 per cent. of the UK’s natural gas needs, which will be shipped into the nearby port of Milford Haven. Not surprisingly in an area of such outstanding natural beauty, the liquefied natural gas development is not without controversy, and some specific issues need to be addressed. The LNG investment, however, will bring a vital injection of economic activity to west Wales, which could provide a substantial long-term pay-off for many years to come.

As well as our coastal heritage, Pembrokeshire is also home to Britain’s smallest city, St. David’s, with its picturesque streets and beautiful ancient cathedral. St. David’s was a site of huge importance in early Christendom. It lay on the intercontinental route that took Irish pilgrims through Britain on the way to Rome and sometimes Jerusalem. Still today, the A40 trunk road, which leads from Fishguard through Pembrokeshire towards the M4 corridor is recognised by the EU strategic trans-European network, which links western Ireland with mainland continental Europe.

Travelling along the single-lane A40 through Pembrokeshire can be a slow and frustrating journey, however. Upgrading the A40 to a dual carriageway is certainly overdue. Local business needs it, local people want it, and while I am a Member of this House I want to do whatever I can to make the case for it, and, I hope, to persuade the rather Cardiff-centric Welsh Assembly of the need for investment in critical infrastructure in other parts of Wales.

In the heart of Pembrokeshire is the old town of Haverfordwest—the county town of Pembrokeshire—which I am blessed to be able to say is my home town. I grew up there, in a street of council housing, which backed on to my old secondary school. Many of the houses in that street have now been bought and had small porches, kitchen extensions and other improvements added to them. I want to add my voice to that of my hon. Friend the Member for Mid-Bedfordshire (Mrs. Dorries), who said that no one should lose sight of what the Conservative right-to-buy scheme did for hard-working, working-class families in constituencies such as mine. Of course we need to provide an adequate rented sector for individuals and families who might, through different circumstances in their life, have to fall back on social housing, but the aspiration of the vast majority of people in this country is towards home ownership, which should be recognised as a key goal of housing policy.

There have been Crabbs in Pembrokeshire for many generations, and not just on our wonderful beaches. My grandfather was a baker in Haverfordwest at a time when, like other small market towns, it was full of independent traders, grocers, shopkeepers and tradesmen. In those days, there was no such thing as a small business sector; there were only small businesses. Times change, and today Haverfordwest has a Tesco, a Morrisons, a Kwiksave and an Aldi, and I am told that we will soon have a Lidl store as well. I am not a betting man, but I am willing to wager that not many of our long-suffering local farmers who still constitute a significant part of the local economy will see much of their produce on the shelves of that supermarket when it comes to Haverfordwest.

A principal reason why Pembrokeshire is such an attractive place for the food discounters is that our per capita GDP is so much lower than the UK national average. GDP in Pembrokeshire is less than 70 per cent. of the EU’s 15-member average, which qualifies us for objective 1 status. We are currently in receipt of structural funds through that programme. I do not want to be too controversial today, but I am more than a little sceptical of the long-term success of EU structural funds in closing the wealth gap between regions. The targets for the EU cohesion and structural funds have consistently not been met.

Objective 1 did, however, provide an important opportunity for many stakeholders in west Wales to focus like never before on what needs to be done to improve the region’s economy. My fear is that that was a missed opportunity. Many business people in Pembrokeshire tell me that they do not feel that the business community was actively involved in the objective 1 programme, and that the process was dominated by public sector bodies. I believe that small business is the backbone of the Pembrokeshire economy and I want to do whatever I can while I am a Member of the House to provide a voice for the hard-working men and women who comprise that sector.

I greatly value the commitment in the Queen’s Speech to reducing burdens on business—business regulations. The small business community in my constituency is looking for action, not more words, from this Parliament.

I am grateful for the courtesy of the House this afternoon, and to the people of Preseli Pembrokeshire for giving me the opportunity to be their representative during this Parliament.

John Hutton – 2005 Speech at NHSFT Forum

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Below is the text of the speech made by John Hutton, the then Minister of State for Health on 11 January 2005.

Good afternoon.

I’m delighted to take advantage this opportunity to say a few words to you today because it is very important we have an open and effective dialogue over the future of NHS Foundation Trusts. But first I’d like to say 1 or 2 words about what it is we’re trying to do – because NHS Foundation Trusts are very much a means to an end.

Establishing NHS Foundation Trusts was all about re-invigorating the delivery of NHS services by introducing new freedoms and new rewards for good performance. As far as the Department and Government are concerned we remain absolutely committed to these objectives and they will continue to guide our thinking about the next steps in the process of establishing new waves of NHS Foundation Trusts.

For the vast majority of the people who live in our country, the NHS remains central to our national identity and national sense of purpose. It stands for a set of values and principles our society continues to hold dear. Our task in Government is, and remains, to ensure the NHS delivers its services in a way that will allow support for these core values to be maintained and strengthened. That is what NHS Foundation Trusts are all about. They are designed to sustain not to supplant these essential principles of equity and universality.

If we are going to succeed in doing this we cannot afford to stand still, because the challenges the NHS faces today are different from those of fifty, twenty or even ten years ago. Our national expectations, both as consumers and taxpayers are higher today then they’ve ever been before. Rightly so. We know how important good health is to the quality of our lives and those of our families. We expect a more personal service. We want our healthcare to be provided at a time and place that suits us best. And we want more choice over what sort of service we can use.

That sort of healthcare service has of course always been available to those who could afford it. For most of our fellow citizens however, it has sadly always been out of reach because this wasn’t the service that the NHS provided. This is what has to change. Making this change is I think the biggest challenge facing the NHS today. People want the NHS to succeed in rising to this challenge, because we know it is the fairest and most efficient way to organise and deliver the highest quality healthcare to the largest number of people.

NHS principles stand head and shoulders above private insurance or voucher based alternatives in terms of equity of access. Every piece of research, both national and international, confirms this. The task facing all of us today is how to convert the principle of equity of access that rightly underpin the NHS into a modern delivery mechanism that guarantees patients the kind of service they have come to associate exclusively with the private sector. To succeed in this historic challenge we need two things. Investment and reform.

We need significant and sustained investment so that we can make good decades of under funding which has left the NHS short of the necessary capacity and the infrastructure to meet the needs of the people we seek to serve.

The extra investment is already making a very big difference to the NHS. Waiting times are falling quickly in every part of the country. The quality of the care we provide is improving too. Fewer people with cancer and heart disease are dying from their illnesses. New treatments and drugs are being made available more quickly. More doctors and nurses than ever before are helping us to realise these improvements in the standards of care that we provide. We cannot claim that every single problem facing the NHS has been solved in the last seven years. That’s palpably not the case. But we are now heading firmly in the right direction.

But one thing is clear. Although essential, this investment on its own would never have been enough to complete this process of transition from the old NHS to the new. That’s why the way we deliver our services needs to change as well.

We have set out the changes we believe are necessary in order to help the NHS become the service we all want it to be. Led by greater choice for NHS patients, resourced through payment by results and supported through the largest investment in new information technology underway in any healthcare system anywhere in the world, the NHS stands on the threshold of the most radical reforms since it was created over fifty years ago.

NHS Foundation Trusts and the work of MONITOR are at the forefront of this programme of change. That is why the Government remains absolutely committed to the principles that underpin NHS Foundation Trust status and to making these reforms a success.

To make these reforms work in the acute sector, we need greater operational and financial freedom for providers, less bureaucracy and red tape, stronger local accountability, and greater rewards and incentives to raise the standards of patient care. In all of these key areas, NHS Foundation Trusts are quite literally leading the way. All of you can point to real improvements and benefits to your patients that Foundation status has helped deliver. All of you have helped the NHS rise to the challenges it faces today. Less than a year into these reforms, I believe the progress you have made has been truly impressive.

It is clearly right however that we should look carefully at how we take forward this policy over the next few years. Firstly, we have to learn from the experience of the first wave. In particular, we need to reflect carefully on the support the Department provides applicants for NHS Foundation Trust status to see what more we can do to help Trusts prepare for the new financial regime under which they will operate.

Secondly, we all need to consider very carefully the experience of the first wave of NHS Foundation Trusts in operating the new Payment by Results system in order to make sure the wider NHS can benefit from the new incentive and reward systems. I think this is particularly true in the area of emergency care and outpatient activity.

Thirdly, we need to be mindful of the need to keep bureaucracy and red-tape to an absolute minimum so that hospitals can focus on the job at hand – treating patients and raising standards of care. This must be a shared priority for all of us. I was particularly glad last week that we were able to announce that NHS Foundation Trusts no longer need to inform the Department of Health every time there is a false fire alarm. I’m sure there is more that we can do on this front.

Fourthly, we need to maintain a strong focus on making the new governance arrangements work as they were intended by strengthening the new links that exist between hospitals and their local communities. I think we’ve got to ensure that this new form of public ownership adds real value to the NHS – strengthening the concepts of local accountability and public engagement.

And finally we will need to consider the report of the Healthcare Commission into how the new freedoms for NHS Foundation Trusts are working in practice.

So there is a full agenda in front of us. For our part, we are fully committed to working with individual NHS Foundation Trusts, with the FT Network, with MONITOR and the wider NHS to make a success of these reforms and a success of NHS Foundation Trust status. That is why we remain open to new ideas and suggestions from all of you about how foundation status can lead to a more dynamic, flexible, entrepreneurial and higher quality NHS.

I want to finish with this observation. At the beginning of this reform process two years ago, what mattered most was what Ministers said about NHS Foundation Trusts. Now what matters most is what you do with the new freedoms that you have – how you use them to improve the quality and convenience of the care you provide to your patients.

Thank you.Good afternoon.

David Davis – 2005 Speech on Police Reform

Below is the text of the speech made by David Davis, the then Shadow Home Secretary, on 19 December 2005.

The matter we are debating this afternoon – the prospective reduction of 43 police forces to 12 regional forces – is enormously important.

The constitutional independence of the police, their local accountability, their operational effectiveness, their cost effectiveness, the stability of their finances, their very identity with their local communities, are all at risk.

That is why the Association of Police Authorities has rightly called for a full parliamentary debate on this important issue.

In his recent letter to their Chairman, the Home Secretary said “there will be an opportunity for Parliament to debate in full the issues raised by the review on Monday 19 December”.

So what do we have?

A debate timed to fall after the formal meetings of most or all of the relevant police authorities, despite the Home Secretary’s demand that those authorities meet his deadline of the end of this week.

A debate held just before Christmas, after a major Prime Ministerial statement, without a substantive vote.

You know, one might almost come to the conclusion that the Home Secretary did not want much press coverage for this issue.

This is hardly the full debate this subject deserves.

The Home Secretary should know that on this side of the House, we expect a much more extensive debate on the future of policing in the New Year.

We are not opposed to changing policing in Britain.

We have long argued for reform and for a greater focus on neighbourhood policing.

We are keen to work with the Government to find the best way to achieve it.

We recognise that Britain faces growing threats from terrorism and organised crime which often require greater co-operation across forces.

But the Home Secretary would do well to heed the words of one Chief Constable who said rightly that “All serious and organised crime has a local base”.

That is why we are very concerned about plans to force mergers between forces, which will inevitably make policing more remote from the people.

And we believe this is all happening too fast.

It’s happening without serious thought about the consequences.

And it is being driven by the wrong motives.

Rather than taking their time, the Government is trying to force the changes through almost without proper debate.

Rather than being driven by operational effectiveness, the changes are being driven by a blind belief in centralisation that defies the facts.

Rather than focusing on the needs of local people, they are being driven by an agenda of regionalisation that this government continues to pursue against the will of the people.

So while we welcome today’s debate, I would say to the Home Secretary that he has a long way to go before he proves the case for the changes he is advocating.

Real neighbourhood policing

We on this side of the House have long had a clear view of the kind of reform our police service needs.

We want to see genuine neighbourhood policing, which is responsive to the needs of local people.

We want the police to be genuinely accountable to the people they serve, which is why we continue to believe in the concept of elected police commissioners.

The evidence suggests that smaller policing units are the most effective.

Recent research from the think-tank Policy Exchange puts it like this:

“smaller forces, with a strong commitment to visible policing, are among the most successful at cutting crime and providing public reassurance”.

In Policy Exchange’s ranking of police forces, the smaller forces – such as Dyfed-Powys, Gloucestershire, Northamptonshire and Dorset – came out on top.

That evidence accords with the Home Office’s own Performance Assessments for 2004-05, which shows that three of the top five performing police forces in Britain have less than 4,000 officers.

This evidence mirrors the international experience.

The greatest and most high-profile success in tackling crime in recent years is found in some American cities, notably New York.

They managed to cut crime by more than a half in just ten years.

How?

Because they adopted a system of locally managed, directed and financed policing.

So with all this evidence to hand, we believe in retaining and enhancing the connection between local police and local people.

The Government’s centralising approach

But as the House will know, the Government wants to move in the opposite direction.

Fuelled by the O’Connor report – on which the current debate is based – the Home Secretary is proposing to replace many existing constabularies with larger and more remote police forces.

He justifies this with his now familiar claim that it is necessary to tackle the new terrorist threat.

That argument, it seems, can cover a multitude of sins.

But should this go ahead, we fear it will be the thin end of the wedge – the first step down the road to making all policing more remote and less responsive to local people.

In an earlier debate, the Hon Member for Stockton North (Frank Cook) – who has been very vocal on this subject – quoted the report’s author, Denis O’Connor, as saying:

“I was asked to put forward a protective services argument, not a critical assessment of forces” .

That suggests that the Home Secretary is trying to use this report as something it is not.

As so often, the Government seems to have come to a decision and then tried to find the evidence to support it.

Lack of public support

That perhaps is why the Home Secretary was very quick to say which of the five options outlined in the report he preferred.

He supports the proposed move to fewer, strategic forces.

There was absolutely no mention of this in the Labour Party’s election manifesto earlier this year.

Perhaps that is because they knew how unpopular it would be.

One opinion poll conducted by MORI for the Cleveland Force found public support for the plan at just 8%.

A similar poll for the Cumbrian force found a majority against the merger proposal.

This is mirrored elsewhere.

In the earlier debate in Westminster Hall, my Hon Friend the Member for Aldershot reported how his own police force of Hampshire had told him:

“At an independently run, public focus group consultation event held with residents, on November 19th our residents were unanimous across all groups that Hampshire Constabulary should not be amalgamated and should remain a single force.”

Indeed, there has been a burgeoning concern across the country as people have come to realise that their local police force might disappear.

And little wonder.

Some of the proposed new forces are simply too huge to be as effective as those they would replace.

Take the proposed mergers in the South East for example.

If that goes ahead, Kent’s officers could be closer to Calais than to their new regional headquarters.

Some officers in the proposed South West Regional Force would have to drive for 5 hours to make it to their new regional home.

Officers in the North West would have to travel for 2 and a half hours to make it from one side of their new force to the other.

Some officers in Wales would have to travel for around 5 hours to visit a headquarters in Cardiff.

Regionalisation

Mr Speaker,

We could accept this if we thought there would be genuine benefits to the community.

But, as I said earlier, all the evidence demonstrates that the best police forces are the smallest ones that are able to respond to the needs of the local community.

There is absolutely nothing to stop those forces co-operating effectively as they do now, but they should not be forced to do so.

Now the Home Secretary will claim that local policing will remain through the Basic Command Units which, he says, are accountable.

But there is absolutely no true accountability here at all.

The BCUs take their direction from above and report to those above them.

Local people have no control over them whatsoever.

What happens if they do something wrong?

Can they be fired? No.

Can they be replaced? No.

Can they be held to account in any way by the people they serve?

Answer, no.

And how much more damaging will it be when they take their direction from a Chief Constable who may be hundreds of miles away?

The Home Secretary says that he has a “desire to establish mechanisms that … effectively hold BCU commanders to account”.

But then he admits that these mechanisms would be “non-statutory”.

Mr Speaker, it’s not enough for the Home Secretary to “desire” accountability.

There must be formal mechanisms to put local accountability in place.

But the Government has shown minimal interest in this issue, and frankly we know why.

There is a wider agenda behind the Government’s plan.

We can already see how the Government’s failed regionalisation agenda is being brought in through the backdoor.

What began in planning is now filtering through to the emergency services.

The ambulance service is being reorganised.

So is the fire service.

The police are just the latest body to face the zeal of the Government’s great drive towards regionalisation.

The Home Secretary cannot deny the regionalism lying beneath his proposals.

Why, if this reform is not driven by a regional agenda, would the Hampshire Police Authority be forbidden from amalgamating with the neighbouring Dorset or Wiltshire forces – as my Hon. Friend the Member for the Isle of Wight (Andrew Turner) pointed out in the debate in Westminster Hall?

The answer is that they would then cross the arbitrary Government Office boundaries.

It is clear that the amalgamations the Government envisages can only take place where there is a regional driver behind them.

As Warwickshire Police Force – the smallest force in the country outside the City of London – said in an early response to the report:

“The Home Secretary has made it clear that the restructuring of forces has to take place within existing regional boundaries”. (Press Release, 11 October 2005).

Why?

If it is so important that we create larger, strategic forces to fight terrorism and organised crime, why should we let regional boundaries dictate how those forces are formed?
Are the criminals going to mysteriously respect regional boundaries?

If this reform was truly about operational effectiveness, it should be solely about doing what is most effective, not about fitting the government’s discredited, one size fits – all prejudices and preconceptions.

Mr Speaker, this Government’s plans for Regional Government were defeated soundly in a referendum of the people.

When will they accept that fact – rather than trying to implement them through the back door?

The speed of change

There may be a case for amalgamation in some parts of the country.

We accept that.

Our concern is that the Government is forcing it on police forces that do not want it, and do not need it.
As one Chief Constable said:

“There’s not been enough critical examination of the report.

Restructuring may be exactly what two or three forces in one part of the country need and may make totally sound sense.

But it does not follow that it needs to work like that in every part of the country” (Tim Brain, Gloucestershire Police, The Telegraph, 12 December 2005).

And the speed with which this is all being done is one of our greatest concerns.

As that same Chief Constable outlined:

“This is going to be the most profound chance since the modern police service was created in 1829.

Maybe it is not necessary to have a two-year royal commission now, but a debate – not even much of a debate – that is based upon a report which took three months to write and which we have really only been given a month to respond to, is just too hasty”.

The last time such a change was proposed a Royal Commission was indeed established.

It was established in 1960. Finally reported in 1962.

And its recommendations were put into place between 1964-5.

This time the report was called for in June, published in September and implemented if the Government gets its way as early as next year.

As the Labour Chairman of the Cheshire Police Authority, Mr Peter Nurse, told the Home Secretary:

“Your timetable is so absurd that it is impossible for us to have a meaningful dialogue with our communities and for us to fully appraise what is the best structure for policing in this area that not only effectively tackles those serious criminals in our midst but also protects our neighbourhood.”

This speed leaves many questions unresolved.

The most important of these being that of costs.

The O’Connor report is 113 pages.

Of these just 1½ pages cover how merging forces will deliver savings.

A figure of £70 million is asserted but completely unsubstantiated.

So the change ‘could’ save around £70 million in the long-run – but equally it ‘could’ not.

There is every chance that costs will go up, not down, particularly information technology costs, in which both the Home Office and the police have such a brilliant track record.

If nothing else, all experience shows that the process of amalgamation itself will be a ferociously disruptive and distracting exercise, probably for several years.

During which time neither the criminals nor the terrorists will rest.

The draft calculations in the report are far from convincing.

So is the evidence from history.

I’m sure many Hon Members will remember what happened on a previous occasion when a Labour Government amalgamated two institutions to try and drive up standards and cost-effectiveness.

They took one failing car company and one successful van and lorry firm, put them into one, and created a disaster called British Leyland.

The history of amalgamations does not inspire confidence.

Rather than raising the average of all, they often pull successful institutions down.

Financial Implications

Even if the projected operational and cost improvements are capable of being achieved, it seems clear that we could achieve them through the simpler federated structure – which would have the added benefit of avoiding the heavy, upfront costs.

The O’Connor report admits that reorganisation “is bound” to entail up-front costs.

It says that these “cannot be avoided”.

In view of this warning, did it not occur to the Government that it might be a good idea to find out what the costs might be before they demanded that amalgamation proceeded?

It has been left to the police authorities to do that job.

The estimates are as wide-ranging as they are disturbing.

We have heard figures of £25-30 million being suggested simply to amalgamate IT systems across two neighbouring forces.

The Hon member for Stockton North has been very vocal about this from the Government back benches.

I hope he will allow me to give the example he has cited before.

His local force of Cleveland has been told that they will have to merge with Durham and Northumbria.

They think they will have to borrow £50 million to pay for it.

Servicing that loan will cost around £5 million a year.

But some forces will have to borrow even more.

I have here a memo from Leicestershire Police Authority which puts the cost of a amalgamation to create an East Midlands Regional Force at over £100 million with ongoing costs of anywhere between £30 and £52 million.

The Chief Constable of Gloucester, who is ACPO’s head of Finance and Resourcing, estimates the total set-up cost at £500 million. The APA assess it at £500 – £600 million.

I suspect that the cost of this is going to be like the infamous ID cards scheme: the harder we look at it, the more expensive it gets.

The full costs could be astronomical.

But we are told by the head of the police resources unit at the Home Office that the “Government does not have the money” to pay for it.

It is amazing, though, what Ministers can do when their backs are against the wall.

After the Association of Police Authorities refused to meet the Home Secretary’s rushed deadline of 23 December, he suddenly found £50 million next year and £75 million the year after that, in a rather clumsy attempt to bribe forces to accept his merger plans without question.

The APA was rightly outraged.

In its response entitled Policing Not for Sale, it condemned the Home Secretary’s attempt to bribe police authorities into abolishing local police forces.

Its Chairman, Bob Jones, said:

“we will not be bought off…

It is disappointing that the Home Secretary is now trying to bribe some police authorities to merge their local police forces at the expense of those police authorities who still have serious concerns about whether this will deliver the best policing for local people.”

And even with this rather cack-handed attempt to influence opinion, the shortfall in funding will be massive.

There are only two places to go to fill the gap.

One is to borrow the money.

The other is to raise it through a higher precept on the council tax.

It is clear that, in the end, the cost for this exercise will fall on the council taxpayer.

This is just one of the reasons why the Association of Police Authorities opposes the Government’s plan.

As their highly critical statement of 7 December put it:

“the APA does not accept that HMIC’s Report “Closing the Gap” provides a complete or comprehensive business case for the creation of strategic forces and… the APA will urgently explore alternative models, such as a Federated approach to establish if these offer a quicker, more cost effective approach to improve protective policing services”.

I welcome this approach.

It makes sense to explore alternative options, particularly when the Connor report proposed them.

Why is the Home Secretary so hostile to federation?

He says that a “compelling case” for federation has not been made.

Does he seriously contend that he has made a compelling case for amalgamations?

Alternative options need to be explored objectively and costed properly – not summarily ruled out because they don’t fit the Government’s regional blueprint.

My own survey of Police Authorities – conducted last week – revealed overwhelming opposition to the Government’s plans.

Most Authorities cited the speed and cost of the mergers to be a major factor in their opposition – together with concerns about the lack of accountability.

Conclusion – time to think again

So Mr Speaker, I hope the Government will now accept that they have handled this debate appallingly – which is why we find ourselves discussing such an important matter today, in the last week before Christmas.

Frankly, as the Chief Constable of Dyfed-Powys police said this weekend [?], the Government’s plans are “verging on a shambles”.

The Home Secretary needs to pause and reflect on the full implications of what he is proposing.

We are not opposed to any change in the current structure of 43 police forces, but we do believe there are very serious problems with the current proposal.

It makes policing remote, when we should be making it local.

It makes policing unaccountable, when we should be giving people greater control.

It threatens massive costs for no extra benefits and it is driven by a regional agenda which has already been rejected by the British people.

Quite simply, it seems to be trying to meet a resources problem with an organisational solution.

We should be designing the right organisation and then finding the resources to implement it.

It would be a tragedy indeed if we sacrificed good and effective policing on the altar of regional dogma.

It will be a tragedy if the government pushes through this hasty, ill-considered, costly, disruptive, and dangerous plan.

A tragedy the British people cannot afford.

David Cameron – 2005 Statement on EU Policy

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Below is the text of the statement made by David Cameron, the then Leader of the Opposition, in the House of Commons on 19 December 2005.

“This was the year Europe needed to change direction.

This was the year the people of Europe rejected the constitution.

And this was the year people called for the end to the obscenity of protectionism that damages the developing world.

The Prime Minister rightly talked at the time of a crisis in European leadership.

So the question for the Prime Minister is whether the British Presidency and the new budget even begin to measure up to those challenges.

We warmly welcome the accession talks with Turkey and Croatia. We welcome what he said about Macedonia, and the EU partnership with Africa.

But hasn’t progress elsewhere been desperately slow?

On the budget, does the Prime Minister remember having three clear objectives?

First, to limit its size, when almost every country in Europe is taxing and borrowing too much.

Second, to ensure fundamental reform of the CAP.

And third, to keep the British rebate unless such reform occurs.

Isn’t it now clear that he failed in every single one?

First, the Prime Minister said he wanted the size of the budget to be set at one per cent of Europe’s income.

Can he confirm that the budget he’s just agreed is higher than that; higher than the compromise he tabled; and will actually mean £25 billion in extra spending?

The Prime Minister says it’s to pay for enlargement. So will he confirm that Ireland, which is richer per capita than Britain, is getting more per head than Lithuania, Slovakia and Poland?

Second, the Prime Minister wanted to change the things the budget was spent on.

Isn’t it clear that he has failed to do that as well?

Isn’t it the case that CAP spending will be higher next year, the year after that, and in every year up to 2013?

The Chancellor said CAP reform was necessary to make poverty history

The Prime Minister told this House in June that he wanted to `get rid’ of the CAP.

Will he confirm that, four months later, his own Europe Minister said that the Government hadn’t put forward any detailed proposals to reform the CAP?

Isn’t it the case that something which the Prime Minister thought was essential the entire Government spent four months doing nothing about?

Will the Prime Minister be clear about what he has secured on the CAP?

It’s a review. And it takes place in 2008.

Can he confirm that in that year the Presidency will be held by France?

Is he aware that the French Foreign Minister has said: `Jacques Chirac has secured that there won’t be reform to the Common Agricultural Policy before 2014′?

Isn’t that the opposite of what the Prime Minister actually wanted?

In other words he’s completely failed to deliver CAP reform.

What about his third objective: if all else fails, keep the rebate?

Well all else did fail.

And the Prime Minister’s position was clear.

He used to say the rebate was non-negotiable.

He said at that Despatch Box in June: `the UK rebate will remain and we will not negotiate it away. Period’.

The Chancellor said it was `non-negotiable’ and fully justified.

Then the Prime Minister changed his mind. The rebate could be negotiated, he said, provided there was fundamental reform of the CAP.

So it was clear Mr Speaker. The only circumstances in which the rebate would be given up was if there was a `commensurate and equal giving up’ of farm subsides.

Now, that is not an unreasonable position.

And at that time he knew about all the other considerations he mentioned today, including the importance of supporting enlargement.

But what happened?

The farm subsidies remain. And £7 billion of the rebate has been negotiated away.

If this was always the Government’s plan, why wasn’t any reduction in the rebate in the Chancellor’s Pre-Budget Report?

We are told the Chancellor didn’t even know about the final deal.

Normally it’s the Chancellor who doesn’t tell the Prime Minister what’s in the Budget. This time the Prime Minister didn’t tell the Chancellor.

Can he confirm that by 2011 the UK will be losing £2 billion a year – the baseline from which we will negotiate?

Will he confirm that the amount he’s given up from the rebate is almost double our entire overseas aid budget this year?

In June the Prime Minister told the House that no deal was better than a bad deal. `Europe’s credibility’ he said `demands the right deal—not the usual cobbled-together compromise in the early hours of the morning’

Did he remember that as he was cobbling together this compromise in the early hours of the morning?

Why did he give up £7 billion for next to nothing?

And – vitally – how is the Chancellor going to pay for it?

More taxes?

More borrowing?

Or cuts in spending?

Which is it?

A good budget deal would have limited spending.

It would have reformed the CAP.

And it would have helped change Europe’s direction.

Isn’t it the case that none of those things happened under the British Presidency?

Europe needed to be led in a new direction.

Aren’t we simply heading in the same direction, but paying a bigger bill?

Jeremy Hunt – 2005 Maiden Speech to the House of Commons

jeremyhunt

Below is the text of the maiden speech made by Jeremy Hunt in the House of Commons on 24 May 2005.

I congratulate the many new Members who have made their maiden contributions this evening. The hon. Members for Hackney, South and Shoreditch (Meg Hillier) and for Brent, South (Ms Butler) expressed great pride at being the first women to represent their constituencies, and I am particularly proud to be the first man to represent mine in more than 20 years. I am also proud to be standing next to my hon. Friend the Member for Guildford (Anne Milton). She worked extremely hard to win her seat, and no one is prouder than I am to be with her this evening. [Hon. Members: “Love on the Benches!”] I believe that my hon. Friend is married.

Let me now undertake the enormously pleasurable task of paying tribute to my predecessor, Virginia Bottomley. This House will know that she played a distinguished role on the national stage as Secretary of State for Health and as Secretary of State for the then Department of National Heritage. The House may be less aware that she was also a hugely conscientious constituency MP, a determined champion of local causes and a passionate advocate of the many charities and voluntary organisations in my constituency. She is also immensely photogenic and cuts a wonderful dash in the hills of Haslemere, the gardens of Godalming and the fetes of Farnham. That, I fear, is an area in which I will be unable to follow in her distinguished footsteps.

[Jacqui Smith: You’re not so bad yourself.]

I am grateful for that compliment from the Labour Benches; I fear that that may be the end of them.

My constituency consists of three historic towns and a number of villages that lie between them. Farnham is the largest of the towns, Haslemere is a town of great charm and character, and Godalming has a special place in my heart as I went to school there and my family are originally from there. My late grandmother was still alive when I was selected as a prospective parliamentary candidate, and no one could be happier than she would have been to see me standing here today.

In many ways, both the problems and the opportunities in my constituency reside in the same fact: we are only an hour from London. That creates not only huge economic opportunities—more than half the working population in my constituency commute to London—but huge development pressures that threaten the special character of my constituency’s towns and villages. I do not wish to depart from the tradition of not being controversial in a maiden speech, but I want to let the House know that I will be campaigning vigorously against the housing targets set for my constituency by the Deputy Prime Minister, who used as his vehicle the unelected, unwanted and unnecessary South East England regional assembly.
I will also be campaigning strongly for a tunnel for the A3 at Hindhead. There is a huge traffic bottleneck there and enormous problems for traffic coming from London to Portsmouth. The tunnel is a project of national importance, and I urge the Government to reconsider their decision last December effectively to withdraw funding for it.

The final issue currently of great concern to my constituents is the future of Milford hospital, which is a specialist rehabilitation hospital. More than a quarter of my constituents are retired, and the demand for the services offered by Milford is only likely to increase. However, I am told by my primary care trust that a short-term cash crisis leaves its potential future funding in doubt. I will be campaigning very strongly, locally and nationally, to ensure that Milford hospital does not become a victim of that cash crisis.

My own background is in education. With a business partner—he is in the Gallery—I set up an educational publishing business that produces guides and websites to help people choose the right university, college or course. I will mention it in the Register of Members’ Interests, and I declare it today because I want to say something about education. I am most grateful to the Secretary of State for Education for sparing time from her schedule, and for making the effort to come and listen to what I have to say.

We live in a highly competitive world, and most Members in all parts of the House would accept that some inequality is the inevitable consequence of maintaining the link between effort and reward in our society. But given that that is so, there is surely not just an economic necessity but a moral duty to ensure that we give every child in this country the best possible start in life.

As a prospective parliamentary candidate, I followed in the footsteps of the right hon. Member for Birmingham, Ladywood (Clare Short) and did a week as a teacher in a local secondary school; I also did a week as a classroom assistant in a primary school. I welcome some of the changes in education that we have seen in the past eight years, particularly the literacy and numeracy hours, which have been important contributions. However, if we are to address the shortfalls in our education system, we have to recognise that it is not just a question of funding; we also need a disciplined learning environment and academic rigor. Respect for teachers is vital, but we also need to pay due attention to academic standards. If everyone gets a prize, in the end the prize itself becomes worthless, and the people who suffer most are those with the least. For them, a credible exam result is the very passport that they need to help them to break out of the cycle of low expectations with which they may well have grown up.

I come briefly to education in the third world, given that the developing world will be discussed at the forthcoming G8 summit. I was recently involved in setting up a charity to fund education for AIDS orphans in Kenya. I did so after sponsoring an HIV-positive child for a couple of years, and I make no apology to the House for coming to the problems of Africa through the prism of a small child’s experience, because in the end this is about individuals and individual suffering.

I was greatly helped in setting up that charity by Estelle Morris, who was willing to work across party lines to help me get it off the ground. She once said to me, “Jeremy, you care a lot about education and you care about the developing world. Just why are you a Conservative?”, to which I say this: no party has a monopoly on compassion—the challenge is how to apply that compassion in a modern context. For my part, compassion alone is not enough; it needs to benefit the people to whom it is directed. Compassion should lead to independence for those who lack it, to freedom for those who need it and to opportunity for those who crave it. Creating opportunities for those who really need them—whether in this country or in the developing world—will be a major preoccupation of mine for as long as the people of South-West Surrey give me the privilege of representing them in this House.