Michael Fallon – 2013 Speech to Npower Business Conference

Below is the text of the speech made by Michael Fallon, the then Minister of State for Energy, on 6 June 2013.

Introduction

Innovation has always been the key to successful energy policy.

It has never been as simple as rolling out one proven means of power-generation. On the contrary, we have always endeavoured to find new sources in new places, whether we look at the first generation of nuclear power stations in the 50s, or the opening up of the North Sea in the 60s.

In the past, innovation has given us access to more – and therefore more secure – energy, and at lower cost.

Today, it must also mean cleaner energy, so that we can move towards a low carbon economy and a sustainable, secure, affordable energy future.

I am going to set out what Government is doing to set the framework for an innovative, diverse energy mix and I will talk about some particular technologies at the forefront of energy policy.

Electricity Market Reform – Outline

Electricity Market Reform is the framework which will deliver the cleaner energy and reliable supplies that we need, at the lowest possible cost.

Set out in the Energy Bill, which reached the House of Lords this week, EMR will attract £110 billion investment in this decade alone – the amount needed to replace our ageing energy infrastructure with a diverse and low-carbon mix.

This is essential to keeping our homes heated, our industries powered and our lights on.

Renewables, fossil-fuel plant equipped with Carbon Capture and Storage, gas and nuclear will all play their part.

Diversity will provide security for our electricity supplies and the low carbon mix will help us meet our emissions and renewables targets.

It’s not only that this will power our economy – the investment will also directly create jobs and growth across the UK.

Electricity Market Reform – detail

EMR works with the market and encourages competition, thereby minimising costs to consumers as we attract the investment we need.

Costs to consumers will fall only when the new plant start generating, with costs spread over the operational lifetime of the schemes.

At the core of our reforms is a new mechanism, the Feed-in Tariff with Contracts for Difference.

These long term contracts will provide long-term electricity price stability, and therefore revenue certainty, to developers and investors in technologies such as carbon capture and storage, renewables and nuclear.

Competition will bring down overall costs and, eventually, provide a level playing field where low-carbon generation can compete without support with other technologies in the electricity market.

We will also introduce a Capacity Market, to ensure that sufficient reliable capacity is available to meet electricity demand as it increases over the next decade.

These new mechanisms will be underpinned by a robust and transparent institutional framework which will provide certainty for industry and investors.

Energy Bill

The Bill is making good progress through parliament. This is a reflection not only of Coalition consensus around our reforms, but also representative of cross-party agreement on our objectives for the sector.

Discussion in the Commons has been wide-ranging – covering issues ranging from the setting of a decarbonisation target for 2030 to transparency. This debate is healthy and welcome – it is hugely encouraging that these discussions are around the fine-tune EMR rather than a disagreement with the underlying principles.

We are on track to achieve Royal Assent of the Energy Bill by the end of this year, setting in law the framework for Electricity Market Reform, and allowing the first Contracts for Difference to be signed in 2014.

Decarbonisation Target

The new Government clauses added to the Energy Bill enable the Secretary of State to set a legally binding 2030 decarbonisation target for the electricity sector in 2016.

These provisions enable the Government to set the world’s first legally binding target range for power sector decarbonisation and they do this in the right way by taking into account the needs of investors for clarity about the long term, the costs to consumers, and the transition of the whole economy to meet our 2050 target.

A decision to exercise this power will be taken once the Committee on Climate Change has provided advice on the level of the 5th Carbon Budget and when the government has set this budget, which is due to take place in 2016.

This timing ensures that any target would be set at the same time as the fifth carbon budget, which covers the corresponding period and within the overall framework of the Climate Change Act.

This means that a target would not be set in isolation but in the context of considering the pathway of the whole economy towards our 2050 target, and making sure we do that in a way that minimises costs both to the economy as a whole and to bill payers.

North Sea

Last century, electricity generation was dominated by fossil fuels. Oil and gas will remain central to the UK’s energy mix as we make the transition to a low carbon economy.

We continue to work closely with industry and we have a fiscal regime that encourages further investment, bringing forward new UK fields while the existing infrastructure is in still place.

Working together, my two Departments have launched an Oil & Gas Industrial Strategy to maximise recovery, maintain competitiveness, and promote growth of the UK supply chain.

Shale Gas

Shale gas is a prime example of a new option available because of technological innovation. A combination of hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling have opened the possibility of exploiting fuel which were deemed too difficult or too costly to extract just a few years ago.

It is true that shale has led to significant price falls in the US. However, we are still at an early stage in the UK and need to explore and prove the potential, safely and while protecting the environment.

Despite some far-fetched claims in the media about the implications of shale gas for the UK, there is no doubt that it has the potential to add to indigenous energy supplies.

We are building momentum – by setting up the Office for Unconventional Gas and Oil; taking forward work on a new onshore licensing round; and planning to incentivise shale gas development, as announced in the Budget.

Carbon Capture and Storage

Carbon Capture and Storage will have a critical role to play in reducing emissions in the UK and allowing gas and coal to continue to participate in our future low carbon energy mix.

We want to see CCS deployed at scale in the 2020s, competing on cost with other low carbon technologies.

To make this happen, Government has created a comprehensive programme, including a CCS competition with £1bn capital funding available.

Our two Preferred and two Reserve bidders were announced in the Budget. We aim to sign FEED contracts in the summer; with decisions to be taken in early 2015 to construct up to two full projects.

These projects offer us the opportunity to ensure that both gas and coal generation have a hugely reduced impact on our carbon emissions.

Renewables

We are strongly committed to a long-term future for the UK renewables – a commitment underpinned by a publicly-stated annual budget of £7.6bn for low-carbon electricity by 2020.

However, our ambition extends beyond 2020. Our goal is to put renewables firmly in the energy mix over the period of the 4th carbon budget.

To take marine energy, we have prioritised funding for the next big step for the industry: the move to the first arrays. Firstly through DECC’s £20m Marine Energy Array Demonstrator – MEAD for short; and secondly through prioritising marine energy projects in accessing EU NER 300 funding.

As a result, a Scottish Power Renewables’ and a Marine Current Turbines’ projects were recently awarded around 40m € in total of NER 300 funding. This represents a tremendous opportunity for these two UK projects to demonstrate the sector’s future potential.

New Nuclear

The UK has everything to gain from becoming the number one destination to invest in new nuclear.

We are in negotiations with NNB Genco about the potential terms of an Investment Contract (an early form of CfD) that might enable a decision on their Hinkley Point C project – for which planning consent has been granted.

The last quarter of 2012 also saw the successful sale of Horizon Nuclear Power to Hitachi, regulatory approval of the EPR reactor design, and the beginning of site characterisation work at Moorside.

Direct Innovation

The government also invests directly into a variety of smaller projects across a broad portfolio of innovative technologies – in excess of £800m in this spending review.

This will ultimately drive down the costs of new low-carbon technologies, making clean energy cheaper for householders and businesses.

Business Consumers

I know higher energy bills are hitting businesses hard.

Competition is key to keeping prices as low as possible. Although there is more competition in the business supply market than in the domestic market, we need to see greater engagement from small business consumers.

Ofgem’s non domestic retail market review proposals will provide greater protection and clearer information to small business customers to help them engage in the market.

Ofgem plan to introduce new enforceable standards of conduct will mean suppliers will have to act promptly to put things right when they have made a mistake.

And they will widen existing licence conditions to enable up to 160,000 extra smaller businesses to benefit from clearer contract information on their bills.

Energy Intensive Industries are also critical to the UK economy and the Government is committed to ensuring that they remain competitive. We announced the £250 million package of compensation for these industries whose international competitiveness are most at risk from indirect costs of the Carbon Price Floor and the EU Emissions Trading Scheme.

Conclusion / Energy Efficiency

So, Government is legislating to put in place a framework which will see our energy supply diversified to meet our energy goals: secure, low-carbon, affordable.

And work is underway across the board to facilitate the development or deployment of promising power generation technologies.

One final area of innovation which may be of particular interest to businesses is energy efficiency.

The Coalition Government has a mission to seize this opportunity. The Energy Efficiency Strategy sets out actions to exploit untapped, cost-effective potential.

We estimate that we could be saving the equivalent to 22 power stations in 2020.

And we have also brought forward amendments to the Energy Bill so that a financial incentive to encourage permanent reductions in electricity demand can be delivered through the Capacity Market.

The Electricity Demand Reduction incentive would be available to a range of sectors and technologies and could target reductions at peak demand and so incentivise reduction at times when it is more valuable.

As you will appreciate, doing more with less makes economic sense for businesses and for the country.

Michael Fallon – 2013 Speech to the Renewable UK Offshore Wind Conference

Below is the text of the speech made by Michael Fallon, the then Minister of State for Energy, on 12 June 2013.

Introduction

Good morning.

I’m very pleased to be here today speaking at this important event.

This is my first speech to RenewableUK since I was asked by the Prime Minister to take on my energy role within DECC, whilst still retaining my responsibilities as Business Minister with the Department for Business Innovation & Skills.

This is a wide portfolio but it makes perfect sense. I believe that my role offers the opportunity to ensure that two of Government’s top priorities are taken forward in a co-ordinated manner. DECC has the vital task of ensuring that we have clean and affordable energy and tackle climate change, whilst BIS are responsible for helping to deliver our growth agenda. In offshore wind there are large synergies between these areas which I’ll mention later.

I haven’t come into my energy role totally cold as I have a personal history with the subject. Between 1987 and 1988 I was Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Secretary of State for Energy. A lot has changed since then particularly in relation to renewables, the realisation of focus on climate change, and changes in our energy self sufficiency as production of our oil and gas has declined.

Offshore Wind – a UK Success Story

Back in 1988 there was not an offshore wind industry anywhere. Now I’m speaking to you when the UK has more installed offshore wind than everyone else in the world put together.

UK leads the world.

The UK leads the world in offshore wind. This is a major success story and one we should all be proud of. One that you have helped contribute to.

Not only do we have more installed offshore wind we also have the largest wind farms and a real knowledge base about how to build offshore windfarms.

This year we have passed the 3GW mark for fully installed capacity. London Array, the largest offshore wind farm in the world, has become fully operational, Lincs and Teesside are nearing completion, Gwynt y Mor and West of Duddon Sands are installing at sea.

These are signs of an industry which is driving forward and making a real difference to UK energy.

So can I now stop there and say everything is obviously working well, exhort you to keep up the good work and leave it at that? Well no, I can’t.

There are a number of areas where Government and Industry have to work together, constructively, to ensure the sector maximises its potential. I will now spend some time talking about these.

The Economic Opportunity

As a Government our priority is ensuring long term economic growth. The economy needs to get going again. And to do this infrastructure is critical.

The scale of investment needed in energy infrastructure dwarfs that of any other area – including transport, telecoms or water. That’s because of a lack of investment to replace energy generation and energy networks that are now getting to the end of their normal lifetime.

Between now and 2020, 20 per cent of our energy generation will go offline, some of the coal plants and some of the old nuclear plants are coming off line, so we have got to replace that just to stand still.

And of course we need to invest in low carbon electricity generation in its many forms.

Between now and 2020, outside oil and gas; we believe there is £110 billion of investment we need to attract.

And we know if we are going to do that, to meet that challenge to upgrade the UK’s infrastructure, we have got to make sure that investors want to come to the UK. – This is one of the main reasons for our Electricity Market Reforms, and I am pleased to say the Bill received its 3rd reading in the House of Commons.

EMR will provide certainty to investors with long-term electricity price stability in low carbon generation. This will be achieved through Contracts for Difference (CfDs) within a framework that will allow us to treble the current levels of support for low carbon technologies to £7.6bn per year by 2020.

So our driving force is to make sure what we are doing creates a long term, stable, predictable framework backed by political consensus and a new legal framework.

I am committed to helping investment to come forward in advance of the Contract for Difference regime. That is why the Government launched the Final Investment Decision Enabling for Renewables project in March. Further details on the second phase of the process will be published shortly.

This will bring certainty to this transition period and will give investors the confidence to invest. And if they have the confidence to invest, the supply chain will have the confidence, in turn, to make investments and expand.

Increasing UK benefit

It’s not just about investment in generating capacity, we are determined to turn that investment into UK jobs.

In offshore wind, whilst there have been notable successes across the UK, I think we all agree that we need to deliver greater growth and opportunities for the UK-based supply chain.. UK content levels are low and we must do more. Consumers support offshore wind through their bills and expect there should be economic benefit in terms of UK jobs and value.

I share that expectation.

I can assure you this is of vital importance to the Government. The opportunity for growth and jobs is the reason why offshore wind is one of the sectors in which Government is developing a long term partnership with industry, through the Industrial Strategy programme launched last September.

The forthcoming Offshore Wind Industrial Strategy, which will be published later this summer alongside the EMR draft delivery plan which will set out draft strike prices, will set out how we will work together to deliver this growth, increasing investment in the UK supply chain and building a competitive advantage.

I passionately believe that UK industry can compete on price and on quality. Through the Industrial Strategy, we will deliver a coherent programme to enable UK industry to take advantage of the opportunities on offer.

Many of you here today have been involved in developing the proposals for action in the industrial strategy and I thank you for this.

We are not waiting until the strategy is published to deliver these actions. Tomorrow’s programme includes a Share Fair where a number of developers will present details of their upcoming projects and procurement process – giving greater visibility to supply chains is one of the priorities identified by the industrial strategy partnership. I strongly endorse this initiative and encourage supply chain companies to go to the Share Fair and find out more about the business opportunities available.

This concept is drawn from the oil and gas sector so this is an example of how we are sharing thinking between sectors through the industrial strategy programme.

Alongside enabling companies to diversify into the offshore wind market, it is vital to attract inward investment into the UK. Our country is the most attractive in the world for investment in offshore wind. And by attracting investment from the top tier of the supply chain it will open up opportunities for the deeper supply chain.

Today I can announce that we will be forming an Offshore Wind Investment Organisation to significantly increase the levels of inward investment to the UK. This Investment Organisation will be an industry-led partnership with Government, headed by a senior industry figure and complementing the work of DECC and BIS. It will be measured on tangible results and will focus on the offshore wind supply chain.

So we are making real progress now to deliver the ideas being developed in the context of the industrial strategy partnership. And we won’t stop after the strategy has been published. The real value will lie in the long term partnership between Government and industry.

The critical importance of cost reduction

Efforts to build the UK-based supply chain and increase competition also have the potential to play an important role in helping to reduce costs.

Offshore wind is currently more expensive than many other forms of electricity generation. This is a statement of fact. Whilst all of us here are well aware of the benefits of offshore wind we simply cannot ignore economic aspects.

Offshore wind is still a relatively new technology and new forms of energy generation tend to be more expensive and require support to until they become established. The Renewables Obligation, which has served the sector well, and the new Contracts for Difference recognise this.

But we should never lose sight of the fact that pressure on consumer bills is a real issue. Of course we all know that it has been rising gas prices that have been the main driver of increases to bills and that the costs of wind in an average household bill are relatively small. But it’s imperative that costs of offshore wind fall substantially.

If I can sum this up frankly, the further costs can fall the greater the potential for more offshore wind to be built.

So, can cost reduction be achieved?

The easy answer is that it must. I am very encouraged the Cost Reduction Task Force concluded that costs can be reduced to £100MW/h by 2020 and that the Offshore Wind Programme Board is now actively addressing the recommendations made by the Task Force. I am very pleased to note that RenewableUK are publishing, at this conference, an updated version of the project timelines for future offshore wind farms, a key recommendation from the Task Force This will provide clarity and confidence to the supply chain and help to aid and inform investment decisions.

Innovation in offshore wind also has the potential to deliver significant cost-reductions.

I am therefore pleased to announce three innovation projects we are supporting as part of our Offshore Wind Components Technologies Scheme:

Power Cable Services Limited, based in Kent, have been awarded a £540,000 grant towards their high voltage subsea cable jointing technology project
Aquasium Technology Ltd with partners Burntisland Fabrications Ltd and TWI have been awarded a grant of £769,600 towards their cost-effective fabrication project

Wind Technologies Ltd (Cambridge) have been awarded a £728,355 grant to design, manufacture and test an innovative 5MW medium speed drive train concept

Ultimately our long-term vision is for low-carbon generation to compete fairly on cost, without financial support and delivering the best deal for the consumer. We must be clear on this point – we want the least cost approach to meet our climate change targets and offshore wind have to compete with other technologies.

Post 2020 role of the sector

Government also has an important role to listen, and I am well aware of the consistent messages you have given regarding the need to ensure there is a long-term market for offshore wind. This of course is very much linked to cost reduction and our industrial strategy.

We fully acknowledge that investors take long term decisions and that it doesn’t all stop at 2020. After 2020 we will still need low carbon generation and offshore wind will be an important part of a diverse and secure low carbon energy mix.

And last week Ed Davey announced that the UK has agreed to support an EU wide binding emission reduction target of 50% by 2030 in the context of a global climate deal and even a unilateral 40% target without a global deal. There is no doubt that we will need significant levels of renewable and other low carbon energy to meet such an ambitious target.

2030 Renewables target

I fully understand that many of you would prefer a binding 2030 renewables target. The government takes a different view. We want to maintain flexibility for the UK and other Member States in determining their energy mix.

This demonstrates that cost reduction, together with growth and jobs in the UK-based supply chain, really is the key to the future of the sector. Deliver significant cost reduction and the potential size of the sector increases dramatically.

Conclusion

Offshore wind is already a part of our diverse energy mix and is growing fast. Our future is low carbon and this Government is committed to delivering the right framework to ensure we attract the huge investment needed, and we will soon be setting out our industrial strategy to ensure that we reap the economic benefits.

I hope, by next year’s conference we can celebrate more supply chain successes and good progress towards cost reduction.

These challenges – reducing costs and increasing UK benefit – are not easy. I’m confident we can overcome them together.

Thank you.

David Cameron – 2013 Statement on the G8

davidcameron

Below is the text of the statement made by David Cameron, the Prime Minister, in the House of Commons on 19 June 2013.

With permission, Mr Speaker, I would like to make a statement on the G8.

The government decided to hold the G8 in Northern Ireland to demonstrate the strength of this part of the United Kingdom.

We wanted to show the success of the peace process, the openness for business and investment, and the potential for tourism and growth.

I want to thank my Rt Hon Friend the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, the First and Deputy First Minister for all they did to help with the conference. To congratulate the PSNI and all those responsible for delivering a safe and successful G8 and to thank everyone in Northern Ireland for giving us such a warm welcome.

The global economy and the 3 Ts

Mr Speaker, we set a clear agenda for this summit: to boost jobs and growth, with more open trade, fairer taxes and greater transparency.

What I have called the 3 Ts.

I also added a fourth T – terrorism. And we reached important agreements including on support to the Libyan government and ending ransom payments for kidnap by terrorists.

Despite our fundamental differences, we also made good progress agreeing a way forward on working together to help the Syrian people achieve the change they want.

Let me take each of these points in turn.

Growth

We started with the issue that matters most to our people – jobs, growth, mending our economies.

First, we agreed that each country needs to press on with sorting out its public finances.

Dealing with our debts and securing growth are not alternatives.

The former is an essential step in achieving the latter.

In fact the Communiqué that we agreed unanimously reflects all three parts of the plan we have for growth in Britain.

Not just fiscal sustainability but active monetary policy to unlock the finance that businesses and families need and structural reforms to increase our competitiveness so our young people can get into work and succeed in the global race.

The 3 T’s

The UK’s G8 also launched a bold new pro-business agenda to drive a dramatic increase in trade and to get to grips with the problems of tax evasion, aggressive tax avoidance and corporate secrecy.

This was a distinctive British agenda, to shape the way the world economy works for the benefit of everyone.

We believe in free trade, private enterprise and low taxes as the best route to growth.

But that is only sustainable if ambitious trade deals are agreed, the taxes owed are paid and companies play by the rules.

This agenda has now been written into the DNA of G8 and G20 Summits for many years to come.

On trade, we started the summit with the launch of negotiations on an EU-US trade deal.

This could add as much as £100 billion to the EU economy, £80 billion to the US and as much as £85 billion for the rest of the world.

Let’s be clear what these numbers mean.

2 million more jobs.

More choice and lower prices in the shops.

The biggest bi-lateral trade deal in history – launched at the G8.

On tax, the Lough Erne Declaration that leaders signed yesterday sets out simple, clear commitments.

Tax authorities across the world should automatically share information – so those who want to evade taxes will have nowhere to hide.

Companies should know who really owns them and tax collectors and law enforcers should be able to obtain this information easily, for example through central registries, so people can’t escape taxes by using complicated and fake structures.

And in a world where business has moved from the offline and national to the online and international, but the tax system hasn’t caught up. We are commissioning the OECD to develop a new international tax tool that will expose discrepancies between where multinationals earn their profits and pay their taxes.

The Declaration also makes clear that all this action has to help developing countries too – by sharing tax information and building their capability to collect taxes.

Crucially for developing countries, we agreed that oil, gas and mining companies should report what they pay to governments – and that governments should publish what they receive – so natural resources are a blessing not a curse.

Charities and other NGOs have rightly campaigned for years for action on these issues.

For the first time they have been raised to the top of the agenda and brought together in one document.

The agreements on tax made at the summit are significant but it is also worth noting what has happened on this front since I put this issue to the top of the agenda.

On 1 January there was no single international standard for automatic exchange of information.

Now there is such a standard – and over 30 jurisdictions have already signed up – with more to follow.

After years of delay, the European Union has agreed to progress the sharing of tax information between member states.

The Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies have signed up to the multilateral convention on information exchange, agreed automatic exchange of information with the UK and action plans for beneficial ownership.

Taken together all the actions agreed with the Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies will provide over £1 billion to the exchequer. Helping to keep taxes down for hardworking families in the UK.

People around the world also wanted to know if the G8 would take action to tackle malnutrition and ensure there is enough food for everyone.

The pledges at our Nutrition and Hunger Summit earlier this month will save 20 million children from stunting by 2020.

But crucially at our G8 we also took action on some of the causes of these problems.

That’s why the work we did on land, extractive industries, tax and transparency is so important.

Fighting terrorism and extremism

Turing to the fourth T – terrorism.

We agreed a tough, patient and intelligent approach. Confronting the terrorists, defeating the poisonous ideology that sustains them and tackling the weak and failing states in which they thrive.

The G8 leaders reached a ground-breaking agreement on ransom payments for kidnap by terrorists.

In the last three years alone these have given Al Qaeda and its allies tens of millions of dollars.

These payments have to stop and this G8 agreed they will.

We also discussed plans to begin direct talks with the Taliban.

Britain has long supported a peace process in Afghanistan to work alongside our tough security response.

So we welcome this step forward.

We also discussed support to Libya.

We should be proud of the role we played to rid Libya of Colonel Gadaffi.

But we need to help that country secure its future.

So we held a separate meeting with the Libyan Prime Minister which included President Obama and European nations have offered to train 7,000 troops to help Prime Minister Zeidan disarm and integrate the militias and bring security to the whole country.

More contributions will follow from others.

And let me be clear the Libyan government have asked for this – and will pay for it.

Syria

Finally, let me turn to Syria.

Mr Speaker, it is no secret that there are very different views around the G8 table.

But I was determined that we should use the opportunity of this Summit to overcome some of these differences and agree a way forwards to help the Syrian people achieve the change they want.

This did not happen during just one night in Lough Erne.

The talks between Secretary Kerry and Foreign Minister Lavrov have been vital.

In the weeks before the Summit I flew to Sochi and Washington.

And I met again with President Putin and President Obama in the hours before the Summit began.

The conversations were open, honest and frank.

But we were all agreed on what must be the core principle of the international approach to this crisis.

There is no military victory to be won – and all our efforts must be focused on the ultimate goal of a political solution.

Together with our G8 partners, we agreed almost $1.5 billion of new money for humanitarian support.

This is an unprecedented commitment from Lough Erne for Syria and its neighbours.

We agreed to back a Geneva II process that delivers a transitional governing body with full executive authority.

So a core requirement for success that had been called into doubt in recent weeks – has now been reasserted unanimously with the full authority of the G8.

We pledged to learn the lessons of Iraq by making sure the key institutions of the state are maintained through the transition, and there is no vacuum.

This sends a clear message to those loyalists looking for an alternative to Assad.

The G8 also unequivocally condemned any use of chemical weapons and following an extensive debate, we reached for the first time a united position, including Russia, that the Regime must immediately allow unrestricted access for UN inspectors to establish the full facts on use of chemical weapons by Regime forces or anyone else.

All of these agreements are absolutely fundamental to saving lives and securing the political transition that we all want to see.

Mr Speaker, let’s be clear on what is happening in Syria and what we are trying to achieve.

We are faced with a dramatically escalating humanitarian disaster with more than 90,000 dead and almost 6 million having had to flee their homes.

There is a radicalisation of terrorists and extremists who will pose a direct threat to the security of the region and the world.

There is a growing risk to the peace and stability of Syria’s neighbours.

And the long-standing international prohibition on chemical weapons is being breached by a dictator who is brutalising his people.

None of this constitutes an argument for plunging in recklessly.

We will not do so. And we will not take any major actions without first coming to this House.

But we can not simply ignore this continuing slaughter.

Of course it is right to point out that there are extremists among the Opposition.

I am clear: they pose a threat not just to Syria but to all of us.

And the G8 agreed they should be defeated and expelled from their havens in Syria.

I also understand those who fear that whatever we try to do could make things worse not better.

Of course, we must think carefully before any course of action: But we mustn’t accept what President Assad wants us to believe – that the only alternative to his brutal action against Syria is extremists and terrorists.

There are millions of ordinary Syrians who want to take control of their own future – a future without Assad.

That is why I made sure that the G8 agreed the way through this crisis is to help Syrians forge a new government that is neither Sunni, Allawite nor Shi’a.

Mr Speaker, we are committed to using diplomacy to end this war with a political solution.

This is not easy.

But the essential first step must be to get agreement between the main international powers with influence on Syria.

That is what we have done at the G8 in Lough Erne.

We must now work to turn these commitments into action.

And I commend this Statement to the House.

Patrick McLoughlin – 2013 Speech on Local Enterprise Partnerships

Patrick McLoughlin
Patrick McLoughlin

Below is the text of the speech made by Patrick McLoughlin, the Secretary of State for Transport, on 18 April 2013.

Thank-you. It’s a pleasure to be here today.

As you probably know, I’ve been in politics quite a while.

In fact I’ve been Transport Minister twice with a gap of 20 years in between.

And in that time I’ve heard a lot of ministers speak eloquently about how things are best done locally – while doing the precise opposite.

For decades, they’ve been preaching devolution, while planning and orchestrating it from their Whitehall offices.

And it hasn’t worked.

So I understand why you might be a bit suspicious whenever there’s a new outbreak of that enduring “ism” – localism.

But today I want to talk about why something big is changing in how we run our country.

And I want to talk about the role that transport can play in that.

First of all, today’s conference is proof in itself that we are serious about change.

We’re here because you represent a new force in government: local partnerships bringing business and government together to change the way we think about localism.

Not the theoretical, unworkable localism of the past, but localism that is practical and deliverable, that responds to local conditions, and local communities, and that balances growth across the UK – not just in the south east.

Local decision making is particularly important in transport.

Because the transport issues that most concern people are local in nature.

Congestion. Road safety. Bus and train services. Issues that are not just understood better by local people and businesses, but that are best solved by them too.

That’s why the DfT has been at the front of the queue to involve and empower local enterprise partnerships (LEPs).

I’ll be honest.

Many in government had doubts.

Could local partnerships succeed where others have failed in the past?

Well you are already proving that you can.

You’ve been helping us make the case for HS2, a scheme that has the potential to change the economic geography of the UK.

This year you start making the decisions on where funding for local major transport schemes should be targeted from 2015.

This is a fundamental part of our commitment to devolve responsibility for transport, and streamline government.

Because LEPs are in the best position to target investment more effectively, and get the best value for money.

Under the last government, local major schemes were managed through the regional funding allocation, which meant central government remained the ultimate decision maker.

It was a top-down system with a thin veneer of localism.

But with the new structure, we will be genuinely shifting power away from Whitehall into the hands of local transport bodies, accountable at the local level, and responsive to local economic conditions.

You’ve also played an important role in the delivery of our £170 million Local Pinch Point Fund, which the Chancellor announced in last year’s autumn statement.

And I’d like to thank you for your help so far.

It’s a new way of prioritising schemes.

And it’s already making a real difference.

Because tackling road bottlenecks is one of the most effective ways we can remove obstacles to economic growth.

In March I made £25 million available to get cracking with the first 10 schemes.

The first – a £6.8 million project to increase capacity on Northampton’s ring road, and improve access to the Northampton waterside enterprise zone R1; has already begun construction.

Work on others is starting this spring.

They include an upgrade to the notorious A40 and A4010 Chapel Lane junction in Buckinghamshire, and improvements to the Clock Tower junction in Harlow, Essex.

Four of the 10 schemes will boost transport links around enterprise zones – reflecting our commitment to support local economies.

We’ve also announced a further 58 pinch point schemes to reduce congestion on Highways Agency roads – again, with your help.

And we’re delivering a programme of 24 major road schemes – including 4 new ones announced in the autumn statement.

For example, the £60 million A30 Temple to Higher Carblake scheme in Cornwall will relieve congestion, reduce journey times, and improve links between Cornwall and the rest of the country.

Another vital project is the A453 dualling between M1 Junction 24 and the A52 Nottingham ring road.

This is a major stretch of road serving the East Midlands and East Midlands Airport – and the £150 million improvements will not only help address congestion, but also make the route safer.

Of course devolved transport isn’t just about roads.

We are also moving ahead with plans for further rail devolution.

And earlier this year we also launched the competition for local transport authorities to become designated as Better Bus Areas.

All this means there will be tremendous opportunities for devolved bodies over the next few years.

Not just in transport, but across government.

And I’m sure that later today Lord Heseltine will expand on those opportunities in the light of his “no stone unturned” report.

Government has now accepted the majority of Lord Heseltine’s recommendations.

This includes the single local growth fund to cover housing, transport and vocational training.

The clear message from government is that there certainly won’t be any slowing down in the rate of decentralisation.

On the contrary, we’ll be looking to accelerate.

So the work to set up local transport bodies (LTBs) – and to prioritise transport schemes by this summer – will go ahead as planned.

The strategic growth plans which LEPs are currently preparing will be integral to the deal that we negotiate with each local partnership.

We have set out the criteria we will use in those negotiations.

But the scale of the resources available will depend on the current spending round.

So there is an opportunity over the next few weeks for LEP chairs to make clear which spending programmes they think should be included in the Single Local Growth Fund.

So, to sum up.

This is a time of great fluidity in government: a time or innovation and new ideas.

The challenges we face as a country are very different to those we faced a few years ago.

And we need to translate thoughts and policies into jobs and growth faster than ever before.

How we do that involves not just central government.

But everyone here today.

LEPs are uniquely positioned to help us get devolution right.

Making the trade offs that will deliver the best value results for your areas.

Using the knowledge and experience of businesses and local authorities.

Supporting economic growth from the ground up.

With your help, we can set local government in Britain on a new course.

And emerge with a model of localism that will change this country for good.

Thank you.

Edward Timpson – 2013 Speech to NSPCC Conference

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Below is the text of the speech made by Edward Timpson, the then Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Children and Families, to the NSPCC Conference on 18 April 2013.

Thanks, Maggie [Atkinson, Children’s Commissioner for England]. I’m very pleased to be here and grateful for the opportunity to contribute to your conference.

As a champion of children living in fear and challenger to our collective conscience, the NSPCC has been a powerful force for good over the years. Your work to help victims of abuse and neglect through channels like ChildLine – which we’ve been pleased to support – has been especially valuable.

It’s crucial that we give young people a stronger voice. Which is why, as Maggie has said, straight after this speech, I’ll be returning to Parliament to debate our clauses in committee on strengthening the role of the Office of the Children’s Commissioner in our Children and Families Bill.

But, arguably, the NSPCC’s greatest impact has been through its unflinching mission to make us, as a society, confront what is still so often incredibly hard to face – the desperate plight of our most vulnerable children and the urgent need to do more to protect them. And the report being published today is no exception to this long and proud tradition.

I’m encouraged by its findings that, in many ways, today’s children are safer, with child homicide and child deaths from assault and suicide down and a decline in some forms of maltreatment and abuse. I’m also encouraged by your acknowledgement that we’re on the right track, with child protection services working harder than ever to reduce harm, and getting smarter about doing so.

But I agree that there’s much more we need to do – to better understand child abuse and neglect, to intervene earlier and with even greater impact.

That’s why we’re fundamentally reforming the child protection system to put the needs of children at its heart – so the system fits in the needs of children and not the other way around.

These reforms and the issues being discussed today could not be more timely. From shocking revelations about child sexual exploitation to alarm about the exposure of children to online pornography, child safety is higher than ever on the public agenda and in the public conscience.

The never-ending revolution in technology, in particular, is, taking us into uncharted territory, with new opportunities opening up alongside new dangers.

But while there’s no way we can put the digital genie back in the bottle, we can certainly do more to equip our children to stay safe. And, with toddlers manipulating iPads more confidently than their parents, it’s clear you can’t start too young.

Which is why, primary school pupils will have the chance to learn about internet safety under our proposed changes to the National Curriculum. They’ll be taught how to communicate securely and responsibly online and how to keep their personal information private – essential skills in the information age.

But, technology aside, it still very much remains the case that children are, sadly, most likely to come to harm at home and in the hands of someone they know.

This, as we know, was the terrible fate of Peter Connelly, Victoria Climbie and Khyra Ishaq.

In many of these instances – as we’ve also seen with victims of child sexual exploitation – the children’s cries for help went unheeded time and time again. They were met by indifference, disbelief and, in the worst instances, vilification from adults who should have been protecting them.

And after every such tragic case, we hear the familiar refrain ‘never again’ – until the next time.

Of course, we all know that we cannot completely eliminate risk. We should always be realistic about that.

But there will always be a next time until we learn the fundamental lesson that a child’s needs (to be safe, to have their basic needs met, to be heard) must always come first.

Ahead of the rights of abusive parents who are unable or unwilling to change their ways and ahead of adults wanting to escape criticism or any challenge to assumptions and work practices, however manifestly ineffective or outdated.

Problems with the child protection system

This is something that, over the years, many politicians and professionals have pledged to do, but, despite some good work, we know that there’s still far too much variation in child protection around the country.

There are, of course, some highly effective examples of good practice, such as multi-agency safeguarding hubs, including the one I visited in Nottinghamshire. But, it’s clear that too many local authorities and other agencies are still failing to meet acceptable standards for safeguarding children – to look for and act on signs of abuse, to intervene early enough and remove children decisively in sometimes the most appalling of cases.

Having lived and worked, for many years, with children damaged by neglect and abuse, I’ve seen, first-hand, what failure to act can mean – both in terms of the huge challenges these incredibly vulnerable children face and what it takes to turn lives around.

Now, as you may know, I grew up with over 80 foster children and two adopted brothers. Many came from chaotic, troubled backgrounds. Their behaviour was, at times, extremely challenging to say the least. I’ve seen babies addicted to heroin go into spasms. I’ve watched on as an abused and deeply angry little boy shattered every pane of glass in my dad’s prized greenhouse because he didn’t know how else to let his anger out. And I became proficient in most swear words by the age of ten thanks to the foster children who parroted back to me what they had heard at home.

But, over time, I saw how love, stability and routine helped them settle and thrive. And it became increasingly clear to me that many could have been spared immense suffering and long-term damage if they’d got consistent and reliable help earlier.

I went on to become a family barrister often representing children in care; an experience that reinforced what I’d seen at home – that timely intervention still wasn’t happening anywhere near enough.

By the time a case landed on my desk, the damage had, all too often, already been done, and it was a matter of trying to make the best of a bad job. It was apparent that cases were managed, all too often, for the convenience of adults rather than the interests of the child.

So if we’re to seriously raise our game and do better at keeping children safe, it’s vital that we reverse this wrong-headed emphasis. That we re-focus on the child protection system where it should always be – on the needs of the individual child.

What the Government is doing

Our reforms are focused on doing just that.

We’re implementing recommendations from Professor Eileen Munro’s valuable and widely-welcomed review of child protection; helping us move towards a much more child-centred system in which there’s a greater emphasis on early help, on identifying and tackling neglect and on multi-agency working – where possible, before formal intervention is needed.

One of Professor Munro’s most important recommendations was the need for guidance on the core legal requirements on all professionals working to keep children safe.

A clear framework within which professionals could exercise their expertise and judgement. And which spelled out what different agencies could expect from each other.

Working Together

We’ve delivered on this in the revised Working Together guidance, that Peter referred to, which has just come into force just this week. And we’re also producing an equivalent young person’s guide for the first time, with the Office of the Children’s Rights Director, to make sure we reach those whose needs are at its very heart.

Crucially, the guidance emphasises that safeguarding is the responsibility of all professionals who work with children, reinforcing, once again, the importance of multi-agency working.

As you know, Local Safeguarding Children’s Boards (LSCBs) are absolutely vital to driving this at a local level so that different services; police, health, education, social care, work closely together and properly share information.

This is happening in a highly effective way in some parts of the country, such as Lancashire’s excellent Engage project – a multi-agency team that has been especially successful in tackling child sexual exploitation, whether that be better prevention techniques, bringing criminals to justice or supporting victims.

I want us to do more to understand what works and why so we can spread best practice further through the LSCBs.

Serious Case Reviews

And when things do go wrong, we need to confront, honestly and openly, the mistakes that were made.

As your study, last month, into neglect, showed, one of the most critical vehicles for learning lessons – good and bad – are Serious Case Reviews (SCR).

Yet, until recently, all that was published were bland executive summaries. This certainly suited the adults who had made mistakes. But the price of sparing their blushes was paid by our most vulnerable children who were condemned to suffer from the same failings, over and over again, because we didn’t learn vital lessons.

That’s why this Government has insisted on SCRs being made public. Some local authorities, such as Leicester, north Somerset and Nottinghamshire, have responded positively to our call for greater transparency and accountability.

And we can see the benefits of publication beginning to be felt on the ground. In Southend, for example, findings drawn from SCRs triggered targeted, multi-agency audits of domestic abuse referrals to children’s social care. These audits identified that not enough was being done to engage with men in families, which had implications for children’s outcomes. So, training was introduced to raise awareness among practitioners and improve this engagement.

Yet, despite their potential to drive improvements, the number of SCRs being published remains disappointingly low – around half (99) of the 181 SCRs started since June 2010 have been completed, but only 44 have been so far been published.

This does show an increasing trend – 10 SCRs have already been published in the four months of this year compared to just seven for the whole of 2011. But too many SCRs still take too long to complete and too many are not published.

We’re keen to see these numbers rise significantly. It’s why we’re establishing a new national panel of independent experts to scrutinise and advise on LSCB decisions not to initiate or publish SCRs. One of the big issues to emerge from published SCRs and which bedevils multi-agency working is the failure to share information effectively.

Only yesterday, I met a council lead member for children’s services who was frustrated that many professionals still don’t know what facts they can share with other professionals about children at risk, often because of confusion about data protection rules – which is madness, when you consider that passing on the right information at the right time to the right organisation could quite literally mean the difference between life and death for a child in danger.

The modified Working Together guidance addresses this issue head-on, making it clear that, where a vulnerable child is concerned, the presumption should be to share information.

Health – information sharing

It’s right to say that the health service’s track record in this area has been a notable source of frustration. It’s a common complaint from LSCB Chairs that the NHS has an abundance of information, but doesn’t necessarily share it with other agencies.

So I’m pleased that my colleagues at Health are making moves to tackle this, with Dame Fiona Caldicott working on a statutory code of practice for information sharing.

And in December, there was the launch of a new system to make child protection information available to NHS doctors and nurses who suspect abuse or neglect when treating children in emergencies and unscheduled care.

The NHS Commissioning Board has also just published its accountability and assurance framework for safeguarding in the NHS, making it much easier for health professionals to understand what they need to do keep children safe.

But what we’re really grappling with, when it comes to better information sharing and, indeed, refocusing the system on the needs of the child, is the need for a shift in attitudes and culture.

Looking ahead

Fundamental to this are our reforms to bolster the workforce and improve practice.

Social workers do one of most critical, most demanding and, yes, potentially, most rewarding jobs in our society.

Something apparent when I accompanied social workers on family visits in Halton, in the north west, a few weeks ago.

One of the visits was to a family with four young children, in which the mother had learning difficulties and the father, mental health problems and suicidal tendencies. I was hugely impressed by the strong relationships and meaningful communication the social worker had established with the family.

This meant that her direct, practical attempts to support the parents by, for example, attaching a checklist of small steps to follow on the fridge, really hit home, rather than just eliciting platitudes that change nothing. I was also struck by the high morale and signs of strong leadership I saw when visiting the council offices. I was particularly interested to hear about a case file audit system they’d introduced, that had initially been greeted with unease by social workers, but had now been embraced it as a useful tool to motivate staff and manage performance.

This is just the kind of positive approach I’d like to see spread more widely – a commitment to self-improvement where professionals are not afraid to challenge one another.

And our reforms to provide greater leadership and support to the profession should go a long way towards this.

We’re appointing a chief social worker to lead the debate nationally about reform and ensure the profession has a strong voice at a national level.

Locally, each council is appointing a principal child and family social worker to lead on standards of practice and on learning locally. We’ve also set up the College of Social Work, a Step up to Social Work programme, and initiated a strengthened Ofsted inspection framework. And we’re keen to do for social work what has been done for teaching through TeachFirst.

Which is why we’re so supportive of Frontline, a brilliant idea by a TeachFirst Graduate, to get talented, committed graduates into social work.

I’m hopeful that we can get it up and running so some of our brightest and most committed graduates can start making a difference to our most vulnerable children and provide a welcome boost to the profession.

Conclusion

It’s by investing in people working on the frontline in this way that, I believe, gives us the best chance of driving the decisive shift in culture that’s needed to truly put children’s needs at the heart of the child protection system.

There’s little doubt that the fight against child cruelty continues to challenge and test us as a society as no other issue.

Even in our supposedly cynical age, we’re shocked by the extreme violation visited on the victims of child sexual exploitation. We worry about new threats to our children online.

Thankfully, as your report recognises, we’re making good progress towards keeping children safer, but it’s clear we need to do more to intervene earlier and more effectively, especially in a technological landscape that’s rapidly changing.

As I’ve just outlined, our overhaul of child protection and social work and proposals to put internet safety on the National Curriculum aim to do just that.

There’s nothing more important than protecting children from harm. Where children are suffering abuse or neglect they should be taken into care more quickly.

By re-focusing the system on children’s needs through our reforms, we’ll help ensure that each child gets the right support at the right time. And key to such timely intervention is the need to listen to the children and young people involved.

This message emerges loud and clear, time and time again, from the children who contributed to Professor Munro’s review, from the victims of child sexual exploitation and from the many letters I receive from young people.

As one of the older children interviewed for Professor Munro’s review said: ‘You’ve left me for too long.’

It’s, sadly, a plea that many vulnerable children would echo; starkly illustrating the uphill struggle they face in getting their voices heard and getting the timely help they so desperately need.

It’s only when young people no longer feel the need to make these pleas, that we can honestly say that we’re making the leap required of us – to properly protect them from harm and to reduce our chances of having to say ‘never again’ in years to come.

Thank you.

George Osborne – 2013 Speech at Currency Paper Launch

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Below is the text of the speech made by George Osborne, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, on 23 April 2013.

In seventeen months Scotland will decide whether or not to end over three hundred years of partnership with the other nations within the United Kingdom.

As decisions go, they don’t come much bigger.

This isn’t a decision for the UK Government or me to take.

It’s a choice for people living in Scotland.

The UK Government is today publishing an in depth economic paper; the first of a series about the economic implications of Scottish independence.

With this, and future Scotland analysis publications, the UK Government wants to inform the debate and help people to make up their own mind.

The paper deals with one of the most important decisions that would face a separate Scotland – how to arrange its currency and wider monetary and fiscal affairs.

This analysis has been prepared by Treasury civil servants, which is why I’m speaking to you today.

Their analysis shows that the current arrangements of a full, monetary, fiscal and political union bring economic benefits to all parts of the UK.

Breaking up that union would represent a fundamental change, and confront an independent Scottish state with difficult choices about what to put in its place.

The paper provides evidence of how the United Kingdom benefits from being a deeply integrated single domestic market.

We trade together – Scotland exports to the rest of the UK nearly a third of everything it produces.

We do business together – nearly one in five private sector jobs in Scotland is for business based elsewhere in the UK.

We work together – each year over forty thousand people move across the border in each direction to live and work.

It’s not surprising then that Scotland’s economy is so closely aligned with the rest of the UK and its interests so inextricably linked.

So the analysis makes clear the value of being able to fully co-ordinate our monetary, fiscal, and financial stability policies.

Such co-ordination allows us to:

our central bank, the Bank of England, to set interest rates to suit conditions throughout the UK and to have the ability to step in rapidly to stabilize our financial system when the need arises;
take advantage of the UK’s ability to borrow in its own currency and credibility and track record with the international financial markets – built up over many, many years – to access cheaper financing;
leverage the UK’s large and diverse tax base of thirty million individual taxpayers and nearly two million registered businesses to ensure when times are tough there is the fiscal firepower to ensure resources go to wherever in the UK they are needed most.
As the Scottish Government’s own Fiscal Commission puts it:

Retaining a common currency would promote the single market and help facilitate trade and investment to and from the rest of the UK and elsewhere.

And the Commission is right on this point.

Who would conclude the answer to today’s economic and financial challenges is to:

– erect barriers between you and your most important trading partner;

– accept a premium on the cost of borrowing when money is tight;

– and conduct your business in two different currencies, across fluctuating exchange rates, when currently you don’t have to – with all the additional costs involved?

The Treasury paper identifies four potential alternative models from which a separate Scottish state could pick its currency and monetary arrangements.

All are a profound change from the pound we have today.

An independent Scotland could:

– adopt the pound unilaterally, just as Panama uses the US dollar;

– seek a formal agreement, like the Eurozone have with each other, to form a sterling currency zone with England, Wales and Northern Ireland in the continuing UK;

– agree to adopt the euro itself;

– or introduce a new Scottish currency.

And the analysis is clear: all of these alternative currency arrangements are less suitable economically than what we have now – for both Scotland and for the rest of the UK.

Scottish Government Ministers have made it clear they want an independent Scotland to keep the pound, the Bank of England and to enter a formal currency union with the rest of the UK.

The Treasury paper cautions that a formal currency union between two completely separate countries is not the same thing as keeping the pound we have now.

First, financial markets would need to be convinced such a union was built to last.

A durable currency union between two separate countries requires very strong and credible political commitment. The very opposite of what the SNP is proposing with its determination to break the political ties with the rest of the UK.

But the lesson from the Euro is stark – they want to weaken the political ties in a dramatic way.

Monetary union without close fiscal and political integration is extremely hard to sustain.

That’s why the Euro area is having to reform its institutions, as the original measures to maintain budgetary discipline of its member states proved inadequate.

Countries with the euro now have to:

– submit their budget plans to Brussels alongside their own national parliaments;

– commit by the Fiscal Compact to keep budgets balanced or in surplus;

– and face the prospect of sanctions if they run excessive deficits and fail to take effective action to cope with them.

And that’s not all.

You only have to look at the problems facing smaller members of the euro area such as Portugal, Ireland and Greece. The most recent reminder of how difficult things can become are the events in Cyprus.

Cypriot authorities have had to put in place temporary capital controls.

This wouldn’t happen within the US or within the UK.

And the Treasury paper cites the example of the last two nations to try to form a currency union following separation – Slovakia and the Czech Republic.

Their union fell apart after only thirty-three days as capital flowed from one to the other as investors and savers sought what they saw as a safer haven for their funds.

So the challenges for establishing a formal currency union between Scotland and the remaining UK are not hard to imagine.

The political commitment to maintaining the currency union would be tested daily in the financial markets; particularly if there was any hint of that currency union being a temporary arrangement – a real possibility if an independent Scotland was committed as a condition of EU membership to join the Euro at some point.

Indeed the Scottish Government’s own Fiscal Commission talks only of retaining sterling “immediately post-independence” and of how its proposed framework was “designed to be flexible” should Scotland’s economic conditions change post-independence.

Instead of talking up the strength and permanence of currency union, they are talking up the flexibility and short-lived nature of it.

Second, the Treasury analysis suggests that an independent Scottish state would have to accept significant policy constraints, even if the financial markets could be convinced of both countries’ commitment to maintain for the long-term a formal currency union.

Monetary policy set by the Bank of England in such a union would over time become less and less suitable for both countries, as tax and spending policies diverge.

Tax and spending would therefore need to take more of the strain to stabilize the Scottish economy in the face of economic shocks.

And the paper suggests that an independent Scotland would be more exposed than the UK to volatile revenues from oil and gas, and a large banking sector relative to the size of the Scottish economy.

Today in the UK we pool our tax resources – a common insurance policy where all pay their share of the premium.

We are able to transfer funds to help areas of the country adjust to economic shocks.

A co-ordinated UK response is automatic.

Such arrangements couldn’t simply be translated into a currency union of two separate countries.

An independent Scotland would have to agree its tax and spending plans with what would become a foreign government.

So the big contradiction is that those proposing separation are campaigning to “bring powers home” with one hand, while planning to give them away with the other.

Third, there is no guarantee that the terms of a formal currency union could be agreed between an independent Scotland and the rest of the UK.

There are no modern examples of a successful formal currency union between two countries of such unequal size.

There are currently seventeen members of the euro area.

The largest member – Germany – represents just less than thirty per cent of the GDP of the euro area as a whole, a sterling currency union would be much more imbalanced.

The continuing UK would comprise around ninety per cent of the total GDP in a sterling currency union with an independent Scotland.

Some have quoted the example of the Belgium-Luxembourg economic union, two countries with a similar difference in size.

But both countries kept separate currencies.

Luxembourg effectively ceded all control of monetary policy to the Belgian central bank.

And the monetary association nearly failed in the early 1980s when Luxembourg made plans to make the Luxembourg franc independent.

So let’s be clear: abandoning current arrangements would represent a very deep dive indeed into uncharted waters.

Would a newly independent Scottish state be prepared to accept significant limits to its economic sovereignty?

To submitting its budgetary plans to Westminster before Holyrood.

To constrain the degree of tax competition between Scotland and the rest of the UK.

To accept some continuing oversight by UK authorities of its public finances.

And what is the economic case for the remaining UK?

The Treasury analysis suggests that the answers are not clear.

Of course there could be some benefits for the rest of the UK in keeping the same currency as an independent Scotland using the pound, but it would also create significant economic risks.

However, the imperative to agree to a formal currency union would not be as strong for the rest of the UK as for Scotland.

While around 30 per cent of total Scottish output is exported to the rest of the UK, the rest of the UK relies on exports to Scotland for less than 5 per cent of its total output.

The benefits of this trade would need to be judged against the imbalance within the sterling currency union of exposure to economic and financial risk.

The rest of the UK – as the larger economy – would be much more exposed to the risk of an independent Scotland running into fiscal and financial difficulties.

As Professor John Kay – formerly a member of the Scottish Government’s Council of Economic Advisers – has put it:

It is easy to see why the rest of the UK, representing 91.5% of a monetary union, might seek oversight of the economic affairs of Scotland, representing 8.5% of the same union. It is more difficult to see why the rest of the UK representing 91.5% of a monetary union should concede oversight of its policies to Scotland, representing 8.5% of the union.

The fundamental political question this analysis provokes is this.

Why would fifty-eight million citizens give away some of their sovereignty over monetary and potentially other economic policies to five million people in another state?

Before the rest of the UK could ever agree to enter a formal currency union, any future UK Chancellor of the Exchequer at the time of independence would have to provide the British people with a clear and compelling answer to this question of sovereignty.

The SNP asserts that it would be in everyone’s interests for an independent Scotland to keep the pound as part of a Eurozone-style sterling zone.

But the Treasury analysis we are publishing today shows that this is not the case.

Let’s stop speculating – and look at the evidence: would the rest of the UK family agree to take that risk?

Could a situation where an independent Scotland and the rest of the UK share the pound and the Bank of England be made to work?

Frankly, it’s unlikely, because there is real doubt around the answers to these questions.

In other words, the only way to be sure of keeping the pound as Scotland’s currency is to stay in the UK.

The Treasury paper also discusses other alternatives open to an independent Scottish state if it proves impossible to agree a formal currency union with the rest of the UK.

It could continue to use the pound without the rest of the UK’s agreement.

However, to do so would leave an independent Scotland with no control over its own monetary policy.

The Bank of England would continue to set interest rates – but without any regard for conditions in Scotland.

And with no ability to print money, a Scottish monetary authority could only play a very limited role as a ‘lender of last resort’ to Scottish commercial banks.

In this scenario an independent Scotland would be faced with severe monetary and fiscal constraints.

Some small countries have adopted this approach.

Montenegro uses the euro.

Panama the US dollar.

But, both the Scottish Government’s Fiscal Commission and the Treasury’s analysis conclude that this option would not be appropriate for a country of Scotland’s economic size and complexity.

Another option is that Scotland could apply to join the euro area.

Indeed, it may well have to as part of conditions for EU membership.

But this would mean losing the pound, imposing new transaction costs on Scottish businesses’ trade with their largest market – the rest of the UK.

And the Scottish economy differs significantly from the euro area.

It is certainly less well integrated with the EU than with the UK as a whole.

The policies of the European Central Bank would therefore be less well suited to conditions in Scotland than those currently pursued by the Bank of England.

And an independent Scotland would face the same constraints designed to ensure the eurozone’s stability as its other smaller members.

Finally it could introduce a new independent Scottish currency.

An attractive option for many as it’s the only one where an independent Scotland would not have to give up control over some or all of the economic levers at its disposal.

However, the Treasury analysis shows that this freedom would come at a cost.

The transition costs of establishing a new central bank and to replace the pound coins and notes currently in circulation;

The risk that capital could flow out of Scotland if Scottish residents preferred to hold their assets in an established currency, with the need as a result for capital controls in the transition period;

The higher transaction costs of doing business with all of Scotland’s trading partners – particularly the UK;

And the risks of a volatile exchange rate deterring long-term transactions and investment.

So the analysis concludes that in comparison to current arrangements the benefits of an independent monetary policy are unlikely to outweigh these costs.

The conclusion is clear.

The pound we share works well.

The saying goes,

If it ain’t broke why fix it?

But I say –

if it ain’t broke don’t break it.

The alternatives to the way Scotland now uses the pound are second best.

Is second best really good enough for Scotland?

I want the best for Scotland and for all our United Kingdom.

We’re better together.

Chloe Smith – 2013 Speech at Infosec

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Below is the text of the speech made by Chloe Smith, the then Economic Secretary to the Treasury, at Earl’s Court in London on 23 April 2013.

Introduction

Many thanks to the organisers for inviting me to give the keynote address. I know that this is a well-respected event by the sheer numbers of exhibitors and the investment you’ve made to be here.

It is heartening to see that this sector is thriving and that there is so much innovation and vitality in this field. With so many global and UK companies represented it is clear that the UK has an important role in this growing sector. Today, I would like to share with you some of the steps we are taking to raise the profile of cyber threats and generate demand for more and better cyber security products and services.

Firstly though I would like to give you a brief overview of our UK Cyber Security Strategy and objectives.

The threat

In 2010, when this government first came into power, the Strategic Defence and Security Review determined that cyber attacks were one of the top four threats to our national security. This is still the case today.

Cyber threats come from a variety of sources but we broadly categorise them as emanating from state-sponsored actors, hacktivists or cyber criminals. The motivations for attacks vary from ideological, political or fanatical, to financial.

I don’t need to tell this audience that almost every day there is a news story about an organisation being ‘hacked’ or individuals being defrauded by online criminals in new and ever more sinister ways.

And government is faced with these threats on a daily basis. On average over 33,000 malicious emails are blocked at the Gateway to the Government Secure Intranet every month. These are likely to contain – or link to – sophisticated malware, often sent by highly capable cyber criminals and state sponsored groups. A far greater number of malicious emails and spam, but less sophisticated emails and spam are blocked each month.

Strategy and objectives

So what is government doing to help protect UK interests in cyberspace? In 2011, we produced our UK Cyber Security Strategy, setting out 4 clear objectives:

We must make the UK one of the most secure places in the world to do business in cyberspace

We must make the UK more resilient to cyber attack and better able to protect our interests in cyberspace

We must help shape an open, vibrant and stable cyberspace that supports open societies

We must build the UK’s cyber security knowledge, skills and capability.

£650 million of investment over 4 years has been put in place; in of course one of the tightest fiscal environments government has ever seen. This underlines the importance we place on cyber security.

In December last year we reported on progress against the strategy and the work being carried out under the National Cyber Security Programme as well as our forward plans. This covers all the objectives I’ve outlined in terms of enhancing skills, research and education, policing and tackling cyber crime, international engagement and capacity building, new measures to help protect the UK industry as well as the Critical National Infrastructure. Information on all these efforts can be found on GOV.UK and we will be reporting back again to parliament again at the end of this year.

Making the UK a safer place to do business

Objective 1 of the strategy relates to the need to protect and fuel UK business interests and is what I would like to focus attention on today.

Industry is by far the biggest victim of cyber threats. We have stated before that cyber crime, ranging from IP theft to cyber espionage to online fraud, is costing the UK economy billions of pounds a year. And as businesses and government move more of their operations online, the scope of potential targets will continue to grow.

Later today David Willetts, the BIS Minister, will be releasing the 2013 Cyber Security Breach survey results. The statistics are very revealing and provide us with the insight we need to determine how and where we direct resources to support UK industry.

In particular response to this, we are launching today new guidance for SMEs on how to protect themselves from cyber threats. In addition, we are announcing a new Innovation Voucher Scheme for small businesses through the Technology Strategy Board. An Innovation Voucher provides companies with a grant to work with a supplier for the first time and should be invested in an idea or problem that is a challenge for the business and for which specialist support is required. The cyber security element of this scheme will fund 100 companies with Innovation Vouchers of up to £5000 each.

Across government then we are working hard to raise awareness of cyber security throughout industry and ensuring that the right incentives are in place for industry to take responsibility for securing their own interests. But where government can help, we will.

For example, at the end of March, Francis Maude launched a ground-breaking partnership between government and industry – the CISP (Cyber Security Information Sharing Partnership). The scheme currently involves 160 companies allied with government to share information and intelligence in ‘real-time’ on cyber threats to UK companies and how to mitigate them. As part of this we have set up a ‘Fusion cell’, funded by the National Cyber Security Programme, which brings together experts from the security services, law enforcement and industry to work together to address cyber threats in a trusted environment. The ultimate aim is to extend this scheme beyond CNI (Critical National Infrastructure) companies and eventually to include SMEs.

Raising awareness in industry

We are working to create better awareness of the threat throughout both the public and private sectors; this is to help drive informed demand at the very highest levels within organisations to ensure that their key information assets are well-protected.

To this end we have been giving advice and guidance to businesses. Last September, for the first time amalgamated advice from the Cabinet Office, the Security Services and BIS was delivered to an audience of 200 Board-level directors of FTSE companies. The “Ten Steps to Cyber Security” booklet has been well-received to such an extent that in January this year at Davos, the World Economic Forum cited it as an example of best practice. Copies of the booklet are available on the CESG stand here today andit is also available on .gov.uk

The Cyber Security Sector

As we are successful in raising cyber security standards across the private sector, growth in demand for products and services to support this should follow.

So we are putting in place the right environment for a vibrant and self-sustaining cyber security market-place of good UK based cyber security providers.

We are determined to help seize the business opportunities in cyber, promoting the UK cyber security industry both domestically and across the globe.

Cyber security represents an opportunity for the UK – both for companies where cyber is core to their business and for companies across all areas of the economy who need to develop a competitive edge through demonstrating that they handle information responsibly and protect the details of those they do business with. We have every reason to believe that UK firms are well placed to capitalise on this growing market.

The UK has history of being innovators in technology and in technical areas such as cryptography which is maintained to this day in our universities. We know how to implement this as our ongoing strengths here underpin our cutting edge position in areas such as online commerce and banking. Undeniably, there is a massive growth potential for UK businesses and innovators to do very well in the cyber security sector.

SMEs

Making a difference often relies on the forging of new partnerships – not necessarily between government and industry but business to business. A good example of this is an SME in Malvern, called IASME, a small business that has developed a cyber security standard specifically for SMEs. IASME has partnered with a local insurance provider (Sutcliffe and Co) underwritten by AIG to offer reduced premiums to those companies that are assured against the IASME standard. This approach is helping to grow these two small businesses, offering an innovative approach to cyber risk management, as well as growing the cyber security market in the local area. Linked to this is a series of awareness-raising events that IASME are holding around the UK for SMEs to introduce them to cyber risk and promote this insurance offering: quite impressive stuff for a micro-business. We applaud this approach and BIS is also contributing to these ‘roadshows’ to offer the government view and present on HMG is doing to stimulate supply and demand for cyber security.

Standards

And to help more companies demonstrate that they are cyber savvy we are also bringing clarity to the broader standards landscape helping companies identify the best of the standards that exist in the marketplace and to protect organisations against cyber attacks.

GCHQ and BIS have drawn up, in partnership with industry, a series of requirements for what a good organisational standard for cyber security would look like. We are relying here on market support and industry telling us what their preferred standard is and how it aligns with the requirements.

Sector growth

At the last count, there are around 2380 UK companies in the cyber security sector which equates to 21 % of all UK security companies. In total, these companies support well over 26,000 jobs – currently 16% of all UK security employment. According to a UK Security Sector Report, UK Cyber Security sales amounted to £3.8bn with UK exports of £800m. Cyber security global growth is forecast over the next four years to be over twice that of the security sector as a whole as economic constraints bite in traditional defence and security markets. So it is clear that this is a growth sector and one which we should encourage and nurture.

The Cyber Growth Partnership

To this end, we have launched a new Cyber Growth Partnership, led by BIS and Intellect, the ICT representative organisation, representing over 850 large and small technology organisations. Central to this will be a high level group which will identify how to support the growth of the UK Cyber security industry, with an emphasis on exports. It will also help identify what currently stops the cyber security sector from growing, with a particular emphasis on SMEs and boosting their market potential.

The first meeting of this group took place last month. The main outcome of the meeting was an agreement with industry on the practical steps they needed the government to take to support export growth. For example we are looking at ways in which those businesses which government has procured cyber security products from can promote the fact that they are an HMG supplier to their prospective customers overseas.

We also discussed how industry and government can work together to ensure that the right inputs such as skills, R&D and funding are available to support growth.

It is early in the life of the group and we are keen that we don’t lose momentum – however the indications are that this group can play an important role in addressing issues that impact on sector growth.

Skills and research

The ideas for skills and research we discussed as part of the cyber growth partnership are focussed on what we can and have to do in the future.

Through the National Cyber Security Programme we are investing in skills research and training. Last week two new Centres for Doctoral Training in Cyber Security were established within UK universities to bring people with the right skills and knowledge into the cyber security field. The CDTs will provide broad training focused exclusively on cyber security and engage with industry to ensure that this training reflects the complex and dynamic nature of cyber threats. This is in addition to funding for Academic Centres of Excellence in Cyber Security status to 11 UK universities and 3 new Research Institutes.

We are also taking steps to improve cyber security skills among young people and to widen the pipeline of talent coming into this field. e-Skills UK is developing interactive learning materials on cyber security for GCSE and A-level students. We expect these materials to be available to schools from September 2013.

At the end of last year, GCHQ and the other Intelligence Agencies launched a new technical apprenticeship scheme which aims to identify and develop talent in school and university age students. They aim to recruit up to 100 apprentices who will be enrolled on a tailored two-year Foundation Degree course. We also sponsor the Cyber Security Challenge UK in its work providing advice, support and guidance for anyone interested in a career in cyber security, and we want to create opportunities for employers and previously unidentified talent to come together. Since its launch in 2010, over 10,000 people have registered with the initiative.

GCHQ has also established a set of certification schemes to improve the skills and availability of cyber security professionals. The Certification for Information Assurance Professionals scheme will help Government and Industry to recruit cyber security professionals with the right skills at the right level, and into the right jobs. It will also assist participants to build a career path and to have the opportunity to progress through re-assessment as skills and experience grow.

All this will take time to filter through but we are putting in place the right processes to achieve increase the numbers of skilled people needed to help protect UK business.

Conclusion

In conclusion, cyber threats are an increasing challenge for UK businesses but they also present many exciting opportunities as well. We are making every effort to address the threats through improving our ability to detect and defend UK interests in cyberspace. We have to work with you, with UK businesses to help this growing sector to thrive. We want to work with industry through real and meaningful partnerships to ensure that UK businesses capitalise from this growing demand for the benefit of the UK as a whole.

Stephen Hammond – 2013 Speech at the Institution of Civil Engineers

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Below is the text of the speech made by Stephen Hammond, the then Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Transport, at the Institution of Civil Engineers on 18 June 2013.

Transport is crucial to everything we do; getting food to the shops, products to market, people to jobs. When transport slows everything slows and when it stops everything stops so good transport is essential to drive sustainable economic growth, prosperity for all and to make Britain a great place to live.

Transport is central to the coalition strategy to growth, helping UK businesses to be more productive, rebalancing our economy and enabling the UK to compete in the global race. That’s why we have invested in transport infrastructure in all parts of our country from targeted improvements to our networks, transformation investments for future generations.

We also recognize that we face challenges many of which as civil engineers the ICE members will be grappling with today and in the future; how to meet rising demand for mobility, how to reduce costs whilst improving services, how to mitigate the impact of transport, how to embrace technological change and how to expand networks whilst also making them more efficient?

Government cannot overcome challenges alone. We need to continue our discussion with industry, academics and wider society to secure that the transport infrastructure that the UK needs and deserves. The ICE ‘State of the nation’ report is an informed and useful contribution to this on going debate.

William Hague – 2013 Press Conference with French Foreign Minister

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Below is the text of the press conference with William Hague, the then Foreign Secretary, and Laurent Fabius, the then French Foreign Minister, on 21 August 2013.

Thank you very much indeed, Laurent. Good evening, ladies and gentlemen.

It’s a huge pleasure to be here with Laurent Fabius tonight and I’m grateful for his invitation to have these discussions here and I pay tribute to him and to the close work that we do together across a whole range of international issues.

I think the Foreign and Defence policy cooperation between France and the United Kingdom is as close as it has ever been at any point in our history and that’s something we strongly believe in in the British government. It’s true in our cooperation not only on the subjects that Laurent has mentioned tonight, but also on preventing nuclear proliferation. We work closely together on issues such as Iran’s nuclear programme. On issues in Africa where I pay tribute to the work of the French government on Mali, helping to bring stability to Mali and the surrounding area where we have supported France’s initiatives just as they supported our initiatives on Somalia at the other end of Africa.

So, we work closely together but foremost in our minds today as you have heard is the situation in various parts of the Middle-East: we have heard about a terrible act in Syria which may have involved the deaths of many hundreds, possibly as you have heard, more than a thousand people. Of course, the facts of this are still coming in. The reports of this are still coming in.

But the United Kingdom and France called immediately for an urgent meeting of the Security Council that is about to take place; and we hope that the UN team in Damascus will be given immediate access to this area, unrestricted access to try to establish the truth. There is no reason for them not to be given access to an area not many miles from where they are doing their work now on the North East side of Damascus. This is where these events have taken place. So I hope the other members of the Security Council will join us in pressing strongly for that and I hope this will wake up some who have supported the Assad regime to realize its murderous and barbaric nature: a government that cares so little for the lives of the people of its own country.

We’ve also been working hard today as you have heard in Brussels on the situation in Egypt, where we have agreed a good position with all of our EU colleagues. That is a position that supports democratic institutions in Egypt rather than individuals or parties and that is why we’ve condemned disproportionate violence from security forces, but also condemned attacks on churches and hospitals by those opposed to the authorities and it is why we support political dialogue in Egypt and we left the door open for European countries and the European Union to support that dialogue in the future.

And of course, we want to keep faith with the great majority of people in Egypt who simply want a stable, prosperous, and free future. And so, we will continue to assist those people and not do anything that harms the people of Egypt as they try to bring about a better future for their country.

So, this is what we have been discussing today and some of the things we will discuss tonight, and I’m grateful as always for the strong cooperation of Laurent Fabius and his team here.

Thank you.

Nick Clegg – 2013 Speech on Modern Families

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Below is the text of the speech made by Nick Clegg, the then Deputy Prime Minister, on 2 September 2013.

Every weekday morning, across the UK, there’s an army of mums, dads, grandparents and carers cajoling young children to “Hurry up and get ready for their day!”

Many of these families are feeling the squeeze. They’re doing what they can to juggle their busy lives. And, now more than ever, one of the biggest things that could help them out is better access to more affordable high-quality childcare. That’s why I’ve made childcare one of my main priorities in government. And whenever money has become available I’ve pushed hard for it to be invested in this area.

Last month, the government launched its consultation on our newest offer that will help more of Britain’s working families. This means that from 2015, if your family doesn’t receive support through tax credits or Universal Credit, but both parents are working, or you’re a lone working parent, the government will provide 20% of your childcare costs up to a cost of £6,000, per child, per year. That’s the equivalent of up to £1,200 per child, per year.

And from 2016, if you’re a lone parent or couple in work, who pays income tax and relies on Universal Credit to make childcare affordable, or even possible, we’re investing an extra £200 million to increase the contribution we give to your childcare costs from 70% to 85%. This could help out around 200,000 families.

Of course, there has been controversy about which families are eligible for these offers. But that doesn’t detract from the fact that this is a substantial package of support that will help ease the pressure for millions of families across the country.

And today I want to talk about what we’re doing, step by step, in the coalition government to help every British family balance the demands of their lives with children.

One of the first decisions our government took was to increase the hours of funded early education available for every family with a 3 and 4 year old from 12.5 to 15 hours a week.

And today I’m pleased to mark our next step on this path to affordable, accessible childcare; launching the government’s latest free childcare offer for 2 year olds.

From today, if you’re a parent on a low income with a 2 year old in the family your child will qualify for 15 hours a week of free early years’ education.

Any childcare and early learning provider – that’s nursery, preschool or childminder – rated outstanding or good by Ofsted can provide places. These funded places are focused on helping the families that need them most. That’s around 130,000 2 year olds – 1 in every 5.

We are investing over £500 million this year. And have distributed £100 million to local authorities to create new places to ensure those children eligible right now can benefit from these funded places from today.

The households, which qualify are those that meet the same eligibility requirements as for free school meals. If that’s you, or you think it might be, your local authority is there to help you. They will confirm if you’re eligible and can help you take up a place for your child.

And we’ve also made this support available to 2 year olds, who are looked after by their local authorities. So that they too can benefit from the great start this valuable early learning support provides.

And from this time next year, we want to extend that helping hand even further.

Our investment will increase to £760 million to help another 130,000 children, whose families are on the next rung of the income ladder.

In total, that will mean extra places for around 40% of families with 2 year olds. And today, I am pleased to confirm that this will be working families, who earn under £16,190 a year and rely on working tax credits. The 40% most feeling the squeeze.

This support will also be there to help children, who have been adopted, are in care, or have a disability or special educational needs.

And I want to thank all of those local authorities and early year’s education providers working hard across England, to ensure that the children who qualify right now can access their place from day one.

I’m delighted at the response we’ve had so far from nurseries and child-minders in preparing these extra places and promoting this offer to parents.

These people are amongst those you rely on the most when your children are young. And the coalition government has been working with providers to reduce paperwork, improve quality and increase routes into this sector. So that when you drop your child off at nursery, preschool, or their child-minder you know they’ll get the best early learning, care and support possible throughout their day.

I know that some of you will be thinking…why not give this free support to every 2 year old? Why not help every family? And it is certainly my long-term ambition to extend free support to all 2 year olds. But the fact is that at a time of limited resources you’ve got to start somewhere. And for me, it’s better for us to start with those children, who can benefit most from high-quality early year’s education, but who too often miss out.

All the evidence shows that if you take 2 young children – hanging up their coats next to each other on the first day of school – the poorer child will already be behind their better-off classmate. And if we don’t step in to help these children, that gap just keeps getting bigger. We’re talking about a child’s journey through life already being mapped out for them before they’ve even set foot in a classroom.

Well-off children are more likely to become well-off adults. Poorer children are more likely to stay poor. And not only do these children suffer. The whole class suffers, as teachers have to focus more of their efforts on children frustrated and left behind through no fault of their own.

As a Liberal, I believe that every British family, whatever its structure, background and circumstances, should be able to get on in life. And that the role of government should be to support, not control, our families. To make their choices possible, not to dictate their choices.

It’s not for us to tell you whether you should stay at home or not. You have to decide what’s best for your family. And the modern British family comes in all shapes and sizes. But it is government’s responsibility to help those families feeling the squeeze; those who find it hard to meet their childcare costs.

That’s why in government, we’re doing everything we can to reform, simplify and modernise those parts of the system that are making it harder for your families to realise their ambitions.

From day one in government, we’ve worked with the belief that if modern families no longer fit the system, then it’s the outdated system that needs to change. That’s why from next year, we’re extending the right to request flexible working to every employee. So that the vital back up team of grandparents, family members and friends who would love to do more to help you out now can. And from 2015, if you’re a new parent you’ll also have greater freedom and flexibility to use and share leave during the maternity leave period in a way that works for you.

Now, of course, this doesn’t mean that we can put off the tough decisions we need to take to get the massive deficit we inherited under control. But what you can be sure of is that the choices we make will be rooted in evidence and focusing investment where it can help your families most.

The crucial question every parent asks when weighing up whether to work, or take on extra hours is: how much of my earnings will I keep after costs like tax, childcare, travel and so on? That’s why we’re designing the system to ensure that families get to keep more of what they earn and that work pays.

It’s why we’ve committed to raise the personal allowance on income tax. So that basic rate taxpayers will get to keep all of the first £10,000 they earn. We’ve already taken over 2 million people out of paying income tax altogether. And by the time these changes are complete, they will be worth around £700 a year for 20 million basic rate taxpayers.

We believe this is a better way to help your family. To put this money back in your pocket for you to spend on what you know can help your family best, rather than have the government decide that for you.

And alongside our additional childcare investment in Universal Credit, I’ve also fought hard to ensure that the system no longer penalises those parents who want to go back to work, but can only work less than 16 hours. Securing £200 million of investment that will benefit an extra 100,000 low-income families.

Previously, these parents knew that if they worked less than 16 hours a week, they would lose their existing benefits from day one, but not qualify for any additional support through the tax-credit system. This left them in the ridiculous position of knowing that their families would be worse off despite them working the hours they could. Now they know that the work they do will always pay.

Within government, it will always be one of my biggest priorities to ensure that when both you and your children set out to achieve your ambitions, the choices available to you are greater, the sums add up a little easier and that, at every step of this road, our government is working hard to build a stronger economy and fairer society in Britain. A Britain fit for modern families.