David Cameron – 2016 Speech on Life Chances

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Below is the text of the speech made by David Cameron, the Prime Minister, on 11 January 2016.

Introduction

This government is all about security.

It’s that security that underpins our long-term economic plan: in a world of risks, we want to ensure the British economy, and British families, are secure.

It’s security that drives our defence policy and strategy to combat extremism: in dangerous times, we know our first duty is to keep our country safe.

And it’s our national and economic security that is front and centre of my mind as I renegotiate a better deal for Britain in Europe.

Security is also what drives the social reform that I want this government to undertake in my second term.

Individuals and families who are in poverty crave security – for them, it’s the most important value of all.

But those who are struggling often have no security and no real chance of security.

The economy can’t be secure if we spend billions of pounds on picking up the pieces of social failure and our society can’t be strong and cohesive as long as there are millions of people who feel locked out of it.

So economic reform and social reform are not two separate agendas they are intimately connected to one another.

And that social reform begins – as I set out 3 months ago in Manchester – with an all-out-assault on poverty.

Today, I want to explain how we can transform the life chances of the poorest in our country and offer every child who has had a difficult start the promise of a brighter future.

We should begin by recognising our real achievements in fighting poverty.

We’ve seen huge progress over the past 50 years, with rising living standards and big improvements in terms of people’s incomes, health, employment, education and in child mortality rates.

And of course we’ve made progress in the last 5 years, too.

Since 2010 alone, the number of children growing up in workless households is at a record low; down by 480,000.

And because of our strong economy, we can do more.

But we know that, despite the good news in our economy, there are still people left behind.

In particular, too many are held back because of generational unemployment, addiction or poor mental health.

Of course, it isn’t so much the dreadful material poverty that was so widespread in decades gone by – though of course some still exists.

Today, it is more often the paucity of opportunity of those left behind that is the greatest problem.

And some in our country don’t just get left behind; they start behind.

Today in Britain, around a million children are growing up without the love of a dad.

In Britain, a child born in a poor area will die an average of 9 years earlier than their peers.

In Britain, there are more young black men in our prisons than there are studying at a Russell Group university.

These problems – they have been years in the making, and will take time to tackle.

But I am convinced it doesn’t have to be like this, and we can make a real difference.

In the spring, we will publish our Life Chances Strategy setting out a comprehensive plan to fight disadvantage and extend opportunity.

Today, I want to set out the principles that will guide us.

In doing so, I want to make a big argument.

We will only ever make a real dent in this problem if we break free from all of the old, outdated thinking about poverty.

And I want to explain how, by applying a more sophisticated and deeper understanding of what disadvantage means in Britain today we can transform life chances.

20th century thinking

The old thinking on fighting poverty – what I would call 20th century thinking – still dominates political debate in Britain.

There are two schools of thought that have traditionally defined our approach.

The first is the leftist, statist view – built around increased welfare provision and more government intervention.

I am not against state intervention.

I’m the Prime Minister who started the Troubled Families programme – perhaps the most intensive form of state intervention there is.

And I support the welfare state.

I believe the creation of those vital safety nets was one of the outstanding achievements of post-war Britain.

But we know too that this approach has real limitations, and these have become badly exposed in recent times.

This fixation on welfare – the state writing a cheque to push people’s incomes just above the poverty line – this treated the symptoms, not the causes of poverty; and, over time, it trapped some people in dependency.

Frankly, it was built around a patronising view that people in poverty needed simply to be pitied and managed, instead of actually helped to break free.

The second approach is the more free market one – the idea that a rising tide will lift all boats.

I believe the free market has been, by far, the best tool ever invented for generating prosperity and improving living standards.

And actually applying its principles of more choice and competition to our public services has, I believe, helped the most disadvantaged.

But some people get left behind, even as the market transforms our economy and the rest of society with it.

They haven’t been equipped to make the most of the opportunities presented to them – and a chasm exists between them, and those who have been able to take advantage.

Now I believe in self-reliance and personal responsibility – I think that’s absolutely correct.

But we have to recognise that this alone is not enough – so if we want to transform life chances – we’ve got to go much deeper.

A more social approach

So it’s clear to me the returns from pursuing these two old approaches to poverty aren’t just diminishing, in some cases they’re disappearing in the modern world.

And we need to understand precisely why.

Both approaches had one thing in common. They focused on the economics, and ignored the social.

They missed that human dimension to poverty: the social causes, the reasons people can get stuck, and become isolated.

Let me put it another way.

Talk to a single mum on a poverty-stricken estate: someone who suffers from chronic depression, someone who perhaps drinks all day to numb the pain of the sexual abuse she suffered as a child.

Tell her that because her benefits have risen by a couple of pounds a week, she and her children have been magically lifted out of poverty.

Or on the other hand, if you told her about the great opportunities created by our market economy, I expect she’ll ask you what planet you’re actually on.

Of course the economy is absolutely vital.

That’s why seeing through our long-term plan isn’t optional.

We will never defeat poverty unless we manage the economy responsibly because in the end it’s always the poorest who suffer most when governments lose control of the public finances.

And of course, we will never defeat poverty unless we back businesses to create jobs.

Work is – and always will be – the best route out of poverty and with welfare reform, Universal Credit, tax cuts and the introduction of the National Living Wage, we are making sure that it always pays to work.

And we’ll continue to tackle the scourge of worklessness in Britain including by reforming the way we support people who fall ill, so that they can stay in work and aren’t just consigned to a life stuck on benefits.

And because the evidence shows that families where only one parent is in work are more at risk of poverty we are going to back all those who want to work.

That’s why our offer for working parents – of 30 hours a week of free childcare for 3 and 4 year olds – is so important.

But to really defeat poverty, we need to move beyond the economics.

We need a more social approach.

One where we develop a richer picture of how social problems combine, of how they reinforce each other, how they can manifest themselves throughout someone’s life and how the opportunity gap gets generated as a result.

Above all, we need to think big, be imaginative not just leaving behind the old thinking, but opening ourselves up to the new thinking.

For instance, the pioneering research that shows us why some children from poor families can climb right to the top while others seem condemned almost from birth to a life of struggle and stress.

And there are four vital, social insights that I believe must anchor our plan for extending life chances.

First, when neuroscience shows us the pivotal importance of the first few years of life in determining the adults we become, we must think much more radically about improving family life and the early years.

Second, when we know the importance not just acquiring knowledge, but also developing character and resilience there can be no let-up in our mission to create an education system that is genuinely fit for the 21st century.

Third, it’s now so clear that social connections and experiences are vitally important in helping people get on.

So when we know about the power of the informal mentors, the mixing of communities, the broadened horizons, the art and culture that adolescents are exposed to, it’s time to build a more level playing field with opportunity for everyone, regardless of their background.

And fourth, when we know that so many of those in poverty have specific, treatable problems such as alcoholism, drug addiction, poor mental health we’ve got to offer the right support, including to those in crisis.

This is what I would call a life cycle approach – one that takes people from their earliest years, through schooling, adolescence and adult life.

And I believe if we take the right action in each of these 4 areas combined, with all we are doing to bring our economy back to health, we can make a significant impact on poverty and on disadvantage in our country.

At the same time, it’s right that we move away from looking simply at income-based poverty measures and develop more sophisticated social indicators to measure success.

So let me set out in more depth some of the steps we will take in each of these four areas. Apologies for the length of what I’m going to say but I wanted to bring together in one place all the things that we are doing.

Families and the early years

First, family and those crucial early years.

Families are the best anti-poverty measure ever invented.

They are a welfare, education and counselling system all wrapped up into one.

Children in families that break apart are more than twice as likely to experience poverty as those whose families stay together.

That’s why strengthening families is at the heart of our agenda.

We’ve significantly increased the help we offer on childcare, introduced shared parental leave so families can be there for one another at the most stressful time – the birth of a child.

We’ve backed marriage in the tax system and 160,000 couples have taken up the preventative relationship support that we have funded over the last 5 years.

And I can announce today that we will double our investment in this Parliament, with an extra £35 million to offer even more relationship support.

We’ll also to do more to help people save – and help build families’ financial resilience.

Those with no savings at all have no buffer – no shock absorber – for when unexpected events hit.

Saving is a habit that should start early – so we are going to expand the Church of England’s LifeSavers project which helps primary schoolchildren to manage money and learn how to save and we will look at what more we can be done on this vital area.

So I can announce today that we intend to bring forward a ‘help to save’ scheme to encourage those on low incomes to build up a rainy day fund, and full details of this scheme will be announced at the Budget.

All of this will help to prevent the relationship strain that can be caused by financial difficulties.

But when it comes to life chances, it isn’t just the relationship between parents that matters.

What is just as important is the relationship between parent and child.

Thanks to the advent of functional MRI scanners, neuroscientists and biologists say they have learnt more about how the brain works in the last ten years than in the rest of human history put together.

And one critical finding is that the vast majority of the synapses the billions of connections that carry information through our brains develop in the first two years.

Destinies can be altered for good or ill in this window of opportunity.

On the one hand, we know the severe developmental damage that can be done in these so-called foundation years when babies are emotionally neglected, abused or if they witness domestic violence.

As Dr Jack Shonkoff’s research at Harvard University has shown, children who suffer what he calls ‘toxic stress’ in those early years are potentially set up for a life of struggle, risky behaviour, poor social outcomes, all driven by abnormally high levels of the stress hormone, cortisol.

On the other hand, we also know – it’s common sense – how a safe, stimulating, loving family environment can make such a positive difference.

One study found that by the age of three, some toddlers might have heard 30 million more words in their home environment than others. That is a staggering statistic.

The more words children heard, the higher their IQ, and the better they did in school down the track.

So mums and dads literally build babies’ brains.

We serve, they respond.

The baby-talk, the silly faces, the chatter even when we know they can’t answer back.

The closeness of contact – strengthening that lifelong emotional bond between mother and baby.

This all matters so much for child development: the biological power of love, trust and security.

And yes, while bad habits can be passed on to children, we know too that the secret ingredients for a good life character, delayed gratification, grit, resilience, they can be taught by parents, not just caught from them.

So I believe if we are going to extend life chances in our country, it’s time to begin talking properly about parenting and babies and reinforcing what a huge choice having a child is in the first place, as well as what a big responsibility parents face in getting these early years right.

Of course, that must begin by helping those most in need.

That’s why I’ve made it such a priority to speed up the adoption process and improve child protection and social services.

I think these will be landmark reforms of the next 5 years.

But there’s a lot more we can do.

Our Troubled Families programme has worked with 120,000 of the hardest to reach families in the country, helping turn their lives round, by getting parents a job or the child into school and ending truancy, dealing with the problems that they face.

Over the next 5 years, we will work with 400,000 more families.

As we do that, I want us to be much bolder.

It’s tragic that some children turn up to school unable to feed themselves or use the toilet.

Of course this is a clear failure of parenting, but by allowing poor parenting to do such damage for so long, it is also state failure of social services, of the health service, of childcare – of the lot.

So I can announce today as we scale up the Troubled Families programme, we’ll ensure that parenting skills and child development become central to how it is both targeted and how it is delivered.

In the end though, getting parenting and the early years right isn’t just about the hardest-to-reach families, frankly it’s about everyone.

We all have to work at it.

And if you don’t have a strong support network – if you don’t know other mums or dads having your first child can be enormously isolating.

As we know, they don’t come with a manual and that’s obvious, but is it right that all of us get so little guidance? We’ve made progress.

We’ve dramatically expanded the number of health visitors, and that is crucial.

But it deals with one particular part of parenting – the first few weeks and months.

What about later on, when it comes to good play, communication, behaviour, discipline?

We all need more help with this – because the most important job we’ll ever have.

So I believe we now need to think about how to make it normal – even aspirational to attend parenting classes.

We should encourage the growth of high-quality courses that help with all aspects of becoming a great mum or a great dad.

And we need to take steps to encourage all new parents to build a strong network, just as brilliant organisations like Family Action or NCT already do for some parents.

So I can announce today that our Life Chances Strategy will include a plan for significantly expanding parenting provision.

It will examine the possibility of introducing a voucher scheme for parenting classes and recommend the best way to incentivise parents to take them up.

Education

Now if families fail, it is even more critical that schools do not – and that of course is the second part of our strategy.

When a child has had a difficult start, what could they need more than a place of sanctuary, warmth, challenge, escape, liberation and discovery?

Now if they’re lucky, they can find it in an outstanding school with dedicated, inspiring teachers.

So what we need to take ‘luck’ right out of the equation.

That’s what our reforms have been all about – bringing the best schools to some of our most deprived neighbourhoods, as well as bringing real rigour – like phonics – back into the classroom. I remember the battle we had to get phonics taken up, it reached something of an apogean success for me when picking my 5 year old up from school and I was actually told by the teacher, do more phonics practice at half term, and I thought, yes, this reform really is fully embedded in our country.

But there are, today 1.3 million more children in good or outstanding schools today, compared with 2010.

Over the coming weeks, I will set out in more detail our second term education reform agenda.

But let me explain some of the thinking that will underpin it and how, in particular, we want to help the most disadvantaged children.

We now understand far more than we used to about how we take in information and learn, what it takes to be a great reader and even be creative.

Much of the answer is knowledge; we understand new information in the context of what we already hold.

As Kahneman, Daniel Willingham and others have described, the more information is stored in our long term memory the better our processing power – our working memory – can be employed.

It is by knowing the past that we can invent the future.

That’s why it is so absurd to call a knowledge–based curriculum ‘traditional’.

It is utterly cutting edge – because it takes real notice of the great advances in our understanding of the last few decades.

Dismissing knowledge is frankly dismissing the life chances of our children and that is exactly what people like the General Secretary of the NUT are doing when they say, as she did last weekend, that children don’t need to learn their times tables because they can use their phone instead. That is utterly the wrong thinking.

All the things knowledge helps infuse – innovation, creativity, problem solving – are the qualities our employers want.

That is why the Ebacc – which puts the core subjects of English, maths, science, history and geography at the centre of what students learn is such a massive move for social justice.

It will give every the vast majority of children – not just the wealthy – the education that gives them the opportunity for great jobs.

We also understand something else.

Character – persistence – is core to success.

As Carol Dweck has shown in her work at Stanford, no matter how clever you are if you do not believe in continued hard work and concentration, and if you do not believe that you can return from failure you will not fulfil your potential.

It is what the Tiger Mother’s battle hymn is all about: work, try hard, believe you can succeed, get up and try again.

It is if you like, the precise opposite of an ‘all must have prizes’ culture that permeated our schools under the last government.

Put simply: children thrive on high expectations: it is how they grow in school and beyond.

Now for too long this has been the preserve of the most elite schools.

I want to spread this to everyone.

So as we reform education further, we’ll develop new character modules so that all heads are exposed to what the very best schools do.

We’ll learn from new schools like the Floreat primary schools in Southall and Brent that will teach character virtues like curiosity, honesty, perseverance and service.

We’ll commission great trainers, teachers and youth workers to share and create materials, and make sure they are available to every school in the country.

We’ll also do more on sport – one of the extra-curricular activities most associated with high academic achievement.

Our new sports strategy extends Sport England’s remit to cover 5 year olds and upwards, meaning more children taking part in sport – and experiencing the highs and let’s be frank, often lows of competition – inside school and out.

And when it comes to formative experiences that build character, there can be few more powerful examples than National Citizen Service.

NCS is becoming a rite of passage for teenagers all over Britain, helping them mix with people from different backgrounds and learn to work together – pushing themselves further than they ever thought possible.

NCS is about showing young people the power of public service, and not just self-service.

And I can make a major announcement on this today: we are going to provide over a billion pounds for NCS over the next 4 years meaning that by 2021, NCS will cover 60% of all 16 year olds.

It will become the largest programme of its kind in Europe.

And to get there, we’ll now expect schools to give every pupil the opportunity to take part, and tie NCS into the national curriculum.

This is a significant investment in future generations – and because it will help build a stronger, more integrated and more cohesive society, it is one I believe will make us all very proud.

Opportunity

The third part of our life chances strategy must be to make opportunity more equal.

Not just continuing to reduce youth unemployment, getting more people to university and reducing the scourge of discrimination.

Of course we should do all of that.

That’s why for instance, just a few weeks ago, I persuaded leading businesses, universities and organisations from across the public sector to adopt ‘name-blind’ applications, because I want every young person in Britain to know that they will be judged according to merit, not and inaccurate lazy stereotypes.

But I’m talking about something more subtle, and no less influential, for life chances.

There’s a book called Our Kids, by Bob Putnam, which is dominating the American political debate on poverty.

It seeks to explain why the college-educated, professional classes continue to move ahead while those at the bottom can remain stuck.

It describes a whole series of advantages that those at the top have but can be lacking in others.

The informal networks of support, the mentors, the social connections, all helping to give young people the soft skills and extra advantages they need to navigate the fast-moving seas of the modern world.

And when you add all these advantages up, it’s no surprise that there’s an opportunity gap between the rich and poor.

The work that active, demanding parents do is fantastic – passing on life-enriching experiences to their children, and rightly being unapologetic about helping them get ahead.

It’s only natural that parents use our experience, social networks and connections to give their kids the best start in life.

So my starting point is not to ask “how can we stop some parents giving their children a brilliant start?” What motivates me is helping the most disadvantaged kids to catch up.

Let me give you a few examples.

Work experience for schoolchildren can be a transformative opportunity.

It gives children the chance to experience work and talk to adults who aren’t just authority figures like parents and teachers.

At its best, it could really help teenagers establish a network and encourage them to think completely differently about their future.

It often does that for those lucky enough to arrange a great placement.

But for so many, it either doesn’t happen at or all, or it is just a wasted week – often spent locally, just watching the clock, never getting kids out of their comfort zone or raising their sights in the slightest.

We can change that – and later in the spring, we will set out a plan for using work experience more creatively, especially for the most disadvantaged young people.

There is also the opportunity of culture.

Britain is blessed with some of the most awe-inspiring cultural treasures on the planet.

Our museums, theatres and galleries, our exhibitions, artists and musicians, they are truly the jewel in our country’s crown.

And culture should never be a privilege; it is a birth right that belongs to us all.

But the truth is there are too many young people in Britain who are culturally disenfranchised.

And if you believe in publicly-funded arts and culture – as I passionately do, then you must also believe in equality of access, attracting all, and welcoming all.

Rich and poor, culture vultures and first-timers, in London and outside London.

That doesn’t mean just opening up a few times to children from a deprived area, it means taking all creativity and ingenuity of those who work in the arts, and applying it to this vital challenge.

And we can learn from those organisations that already do an excellent job in reaching out to marginalised groups.

So our Life Chances Strategy will address this cultural disenfranchisement directly, and with a new cultural citizens programme, ensure there is real engagement by arts organisations with those who might believe that culture is not for them – meaning that many more children can have the doors opened to their wonderful cultural inheritance.

Mentoring should also a big, big part of our plans.

Many people can look back at their younger selves and can point to someone, or remember, perhaps a parent or teacher, a sports coach, or their first boss, and say “that’s the person who really found my passion. They’re the ones who made the difference for me.”

But if you haven’t ever had someone in your life who really believes in you, who sees your potential and helps bring it to the fore, the sands of time can drain away, and your talents can remain hidden.

So I can announce that we are going to launch a new national campaign led by Christine Hodgson, Chair of Capgemini UK and of the Careers and Enterprise Company and it will work with business, charities and the public sector to build a new generation of high-quality mentors.

We’ll direct £70m towards careers in this Parliament, principally to the Careers and Enterprise Company, who will lead this major new effort to recruit mentors for young teenagers, with a focus on the 25,000 about to start their GCSEs who we know are underachieving or at risk of dropping out.

I’ve seen this happen, in some London state schools, one I went to a couple of years ago where every single child coming up to GCSE had a mentor and I think we can be far more ambitious about what is possible in this area.

So by finding inspirational role models and encouraging them to give up some time, I believe we really can help young people make big plans for their future.

There is also an important issue of community that we must address – and that’s some of our housing estates.

Some of these places, especially those built after the war, actually entrench poverty, because of the way they isolate and entrap so many families and communities.

Within these estates, behind front doors, families build warm and welcoming homes just like everyone else.

But step outside and you’re often confronted by concrete slabs as if dropped from on high, brutal high-rise towers and linked walkways that become a gift to criminals and drug dealers.

These places actually design in crime, rather than out.

Decades of neglect have spawned ghettos, gangs and anti-social behaviour.

And poverty has become concentrated, because let’s face it – few who could afford to move would want to stay.

Of course, these estates also lead to social segregation, meaning people from different backgrounds just don’t mix together as much as they used to.

And that isn’t good for anyone.

I think it’s time to be far more ambitious about solving this problem.

So I can announce today: we’re going to tear them down.

We are going to work with 100 housing estates across the country, aiming to transform them.

We’ll work in partnership with residents, housing associations, local authorities, social enterprises and private developers, and sweep away the barriers that prevent regeneration.

For some estates, it will mean simply knocking them down and starting again.

Developers will rebuild often at a higher density, increasing housing supply throughout the country.

And to help us get there, we’ll appoint an advisory panel whose first job will be to establish a set of binding guarantees for tenants and homeowners, so that they know they are properly protected.

With massive estate regeneration, tenants protected, land unlocked for new housing all over Britain, I believe we can truly consign the term ‘sink estate’ to history.

Treatment and support

The final part of our plan must be to get the right treatment and support to those who are in crisis.

Some people with mental health problems today are almost guaranteed to live a life in poverty.

And the number of people who suffer from poor mental health is larger than you might think.

One in five new mothers develop a mental health problem around the time of the birth of their child.

Up to one in four of us will have a problem – perhaps a form of depression or anxiety – this year alone.

There is the terrible fact that suicide has become the leading cause of death for men under 50.

And the challenge is that, all too often, people are just left to get to crisis point either because the health service simply can’t cope, or because they’re worried about admitting to having a problem in the first place.

We have got to get this right.

Mental illness isn’t contagious.

There’s nothing to be frightened of.

As a country, we need to be far more mature about this.

Less hushed tones, less whispering; more frank and open discussion.

We need to take away that shame, that embarrassment, let people know that they’re not in this alone, that when the clouds descend, they don’t have to suffer silently.

I want us to be able to say to anyone who is struggling, “talk to someone, ask your doctor for help and we will always be there to support you.”

But that support has to be there.

And that poses a big challenge for government in terms of services and treatment.

We have to be equal to it.

That’s why last March, we announced an unprecedented £1.25 billion investment in mental health treatment for children and young people.

This is already improving talking therapy services for children across the country.

And we will use that money to intervene much earlier with those suffering from poor mental health, so we can stop problems escalating.

I can announce today a £290 million investment by 2020, which will mean that at least 30,000 more women each year will have access to evidence-based, specialist mental health care during or after pregnancy.

Crisis doesn’t hit at convenient times, but people with mental health problems are 3 times more likely to turn up at A&E than those without.

So today I can commit a further £250m to deliver 24/7 psychiatric liaison services in A&E departments, ensuring that people with mental ill health receive assessment and treatment whatever the reason for their attendance at A&E.

We’ll also invest £400m to enable teams across the country to deliver 24/7 treatment in communities and homes, as a safe and effective alternative to hospitals.

We’ll deliver a guarantee that more than half of patients with psychosis – the most serious cases – will be treated within 2 weeks.

And for teenagers suffering from eating disorders like anorexia, we are introducing the first ever waiting time standard, so that more people can get help within a month of being referred, or within a week for urgent cases.

With these announcements, by breaking the mental health taboo, by working with businesses and charities, and by taking forward the recommendations of the independent mental health taskforce that will report soon, I believe we can lead a revolution in mental health treatment in Britain.

There’s another big issue we need to address: addiction.

Alcoholism and drug addiction can happen to anyone.

People with wonderful families, great careers, a million good reasons to stop.

In Westminster, we were reminded of this all too painfully last summer.

Charles Kennedy was not just a brilliant MP with so much more to contribute to our politics, he was also a kind, lovely man, brimming with wit, warmth and humanity. He was starting a new life in a place that he loved. He had everything to live for. But at just 55, he was gone.

Are we getting it right here? Are we looking after each other as we should?

I really don’t think we are.

Let’s be honest: when we hear the words ‘drug addict’ or ‘alcoholic’, there is still such a stigma that comes attached.

Still a view that addiction is simply a question of will, a sense that it’s simply about self-control, a feeling that it’s somehow shameful if we admit to having a problem.

We see it as weakness.

It isn’t.

Seeking help is strength.

Now let me be clear: I believe profoundly in personal responsibility.

Personal responsibility means facing up to problems and seeking treatment – doing everything you can to get back on the right track.

We must always emphasise that.

And we should never make excuses for addicts’ behaviour, especially when they commit crime to support a habit, or hurt those around them.

But when we know more as we do now, about how addiction works, how it changes your brain structure and brain chemistry, how some people are genetically more susceptible, how stress and depression can make you more likely to develop a problem, we can understand why this is so difficult.

We have got to start treating people with the compassion that we would want to receive if it was one of our own family who had fallen into difficulty.

That’s why we’ve already changed our approach so that recovery – not maintenance – is now the key goal of drug treatment.

And I can announce today that we will create a new social investment outcomes fund of up to £30 million, to encourage the development of new treatment options for alcoholism and drug addiction, delivered by expert charities and social enterprises.

I think this could unlock around £120 million of funding from local commissioners, and up to £60 million of new social investment, to expand the kind of treatment we know can work, including those vital residential rehab places.

Conclusion

So this is how I believe we can rescue a generation from poverty and extend life chances right across our country.

Backing stable families and good parenting, because we know the importance of those early years in setting children up for a good life. It’s about improving education, so those who’ve had the toughest starts have every chance of breaking the cycle of poverty.

It’s about building a country where opportunity is more equal, with stronger communities and young people who have the experiences and the networks to get out there and take on the world.

And providing high quality treatment, as we eliminate once and for all the damaging stigma that surrounds addiction and mental health.

All of this – delivering our Life Chances Strategy – it starts with that fundamental belief that people in poverty are not liabilities to be managed, each person is an asset to be realised, human potential is to be nurtured.

Since I got to my feet here this morning, 40 babies have been born in our country.

New-borns being bundled up and handed to proud parents in maternity wards all across Britain.

There’s so much hope in those rooms, so many quiet wishes being made by mums and dads – rich and poor alike – for their child’s life.

Sometimes we can make politics sound very complicated, but for me it all comes back to a simple ambition.

To give every child the chance to dream big dreams, and the tools – the character, the knowledge and the confidence, that will let their potential shine brightly.

So for people in Britain who are struggling today, our mission as a government is to look each parent and child in the eye, and say, “Your dreams are our dreams. We’ll support you with everything we’ve got.”

And with the steps I’ve outlined today, with our Life Chances Strategy, I am confident that we can deliver.

David Cameron – 2016 Speech on Estate Regeneration

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Below is the text of the article written by David Cameron, the Prime Minister, in the Sunday Times on 10 January 2016.

I believe we are in the middle of a turnaround decade for Britain. And it all comes back to one word: security. I want this to be the decade where we deliver the economic security that working people and British businesses need to flourish; and where our national security is preserved as we strengthen our defences and defeat the scourge of Islamist extremism for good.

There’s another crucial dimension to our plans: social reform – bringing security to families who currently have none at all. As I said 3 months ago in Manchester, a central part of my second term agenda is to wage an all-out assault on poverty and disadvantage. And tomorrow, I will set out our plan to extend life chances across Britain, and really get to grips with the deep social problems – the blocked opportunity, poor parenting, addiction and mental health problems – that mean so many are unable to fulfil their potential.

There’s one issue that brings together many of these social problems – and for me, epitomises both the scale of the challenge we face and the nature of state failure over decades. It’s our housing estates. Some of them, especially those built just after the war, are actually entrenching poverty in Britain – isolating and entrapping many of our families and communities. I remember campaigning in London as far back as the 1980s in bleak, high-rise buildings, where some voters lived behind padlocked and chained-up doors. In 2016, for too many places, not enough has changed.

Of course, within these so-called sink estates, behind front doors, families build warm and welcoming homes. But step outside in the worst estates, and you’re confronted by concrete slabs dropped from on high, brutal high-rise towers and dark alleyways that are a gift to criminals and drug dealers. The police often talk about the importance of designing out crime, but these estates actually designed it in. Decades of neglect have led to gangs, ghettos and anti-social behaviour. And poverty has become entrenched, because those who could afford to move have understandably done so.

One of the most concerning aspects of these estates is just how cut-off, self-governing and divorced from the mainstream these communities can become. In some places, there is severe social segregation, and it damages us all when communities simply don’t come into contact with one another. And that allows social problems to fester and grow unseen. The riots of 2011 didn’t emerge from within terraced streets or low-rise apartment buildings. As spatial analysis of the riots has shown, the rioters came overwhelmingly from these post-war estates. Almost 3 quarters of those convicted lived within them. That’s not a coincidence.

As we tackle this problem, we should learn the lessons from the failed attempts to regenerate estates in the past. A raft of pointless planning rules, local politics and tenants’ concerns about whether regeneration would be done fairly all prevented progress. And if we’re honest, there often just wasn’t the political will and momentum in government to cut through all of this to get things done.

So what’s our plan? Today I am announcing that we will work with 100 housing estates in Britain, aiming to transform them. A new Advisory Panel will help galvanise our efforts and their first job will be to build a list of post-war estates across the country that are ripe for re-development, and work with up to 100,000 residents to put together regeneration plans. For some, this will simply mean knocking them down and starting again. For others, it might mean changes to layout, upgrading facilities and improving local road and transport links.

The panel will also establish a set of binding guarantees for tenants and homeowners so that they are protected.

To finance this, we’ll establish a new £140 million fund that will pump-prime the planning process, temporary rehousing and early construction costs. And we’ll publish an Estates Regeneration Strategy that will sweep away the planning blockages and take new steps to reduce political and reputational risk for projects’ key decision-makers and investors.

There’s a second critical by-product of our plan. Tomorrow a report from Savills will show that this kind of programme could help to catalyse the building of hundreds of thousands of new homes in London alone. This is because existing estates were built at a lower density than many modern developments – poorly laid-out, with wasted open space that was neither park nor garden. So regeneration will work best in areas where land values are high, because new private homes, built attractively and at a higher density, will fund the regeneration of the rest of the estate.

For decades, sink estates – and frankly, sometimes the people who lived in them – had been seen as something simply to be managed. It’s time to be more ambitious on every level. The mission here is nothing short of social turnaround, and with massive estate regeneration, tenants protected and land unlocked for new housing all over Britain, I believe that together we can tear down anything that stands in our way.

Amber Rudd – 2015 Speech on UK Energy Policy

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Below is the text of the speech made by Amber Rudd, the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, at the Institute of Civil Engineers in London on 18 November 2015.

Introduction

There’s a picture from the Government art collection that hangs in the Department of Energy and Climate Change. It’s called “At the Coal Face” by Nicholas Evans.

Rendered in black and white, it shows a pair of miners with shovels and picks, muscles straining as they work at a seam. It’s a very powerful picture.

For me as Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, it’s a constant reminder that the efforts made to heat and light our homes; to power our businesses and economy; are, and have always been, a very human endeavour. Our energy system is a miracle of human ingenuity, industry and innovation.

Many decades of engineering brilliance and hard, often dangerous work has produced a system which takes the natural raw material of coal and gas and oil (and now the wind and sun) and moulds them into something that powers our lives.

Most of us take energy for granted. The lights come on when we want them to and that’s exactly as it should be.

No government should ever take a risk on security, whether it be keeping our citizens safe or building a more resilient economy.

This Government is focussed on securing a better future for Britain.

And that includes energy security.

Our modern society simply cannot function without power.

Energy security has to be the number one priority.

But no responsible government should take a risk on climate change either.

Because it’s one of the greatest long-term threats to our economic security.

So the challenge we face is how we make sure that energy remains as the backbone of our economy, while we transform to a low carbon system.

How do we achieve an energy system that is secure; affordable; and clean?

Energy Policy in Context

That picture, ‘At the Coal Face’, is also a historical record.

Drawn in 1978, the year of the winter of discontent, the decade of the ‘three day week’, for me, it conjures up a Britain from a wholly different age.

Since then Britain’s energy system has been shaped in two distinct phases.

The first of these was the break-up of the large nationalised energy monopolies set in train by Nigel Lawson.

Competition

In his seminal speech in 1982, he defined the Government’s role as setting a framework that would ensure the market, rather than the state, provided secure, cost-efficient energy.

This was driven by a desire to create a system where competition worked for families and businesses.

“The changes in prospect,” said Lawson at the time, “will help us ensure that the supplies of fuel we need are available at the lowest practicable cost.”

Allowing markets to flourish. Open to trading. Independent regulation to provide confidence to investors. Competition keeping prices as low as possible.

Of course, the market that was created was not free from all government intervention. Markets never are.

Intervention was necessary then and will always remain so in an industry that delivers such a vital service.

But intervention was limited.

Intervention

The second phase of modern energy policy began when Tony Blair signed the Renewable Energy Target in 2007.

What has this left us with?

We now have an electricity system where no form of power generation, not even gas-fired power stations, can be built without government intervention.

And a legacy of ageing, often unreliable plant.

Perversely, even with the huge growth in renewables, our dependence on coal, the dirtiest fossil fuel, hasn’t been reduced.

Indeed a higher proportion of our electricity came from coal in 2014 than in 1999.

So we still haven’t found the right balance.

We need a course correction using the tools we have already developed through Electricity Market Reform.

We know competition works. It keeps costs low and can deliver a clean and reliable energy system.

We want a consumer-led, competition focussed energy system that has energy security at the heart of it and delivers for families and businesses.

We want to see a competitive electricity market, with government out of the way as much as possible, by 2025.

Getting there will not be easy. The process of privatisation itself spanned five Parliaments.

Indeed, moving to a new model without risking energy security will require government to continue to intervene. But that should diminish over time.

We need to start that work now.

So how do we do that?

Energy Security

It may sound a strange thing to say, but fundamentally, I want energy policy to be boring.

One that people going about their daily lives don’t need to worry about, because they trust that the system produces energy that is reliable and affordable and, indeed, isn’t damaging to the environment.

Frankly, if at all possible, energy policy shouldn’t be noticed.

That is why energy security has to be the first priority – it is fundamental to the health of our economy and the lives of our people.

It underpins everything we need to do.

Gas

In some areas the system works well.

The gas used to heat our homes is amongst the cheapest and most secure in Europe.

And this is despite the decline in our domestic gas production from the North Sea.

How has this been achieved?

Investors, driven by a desire to make a profit, have built new LNG terminals and pipelines that have improved diversity of supply.

In this case, energy security has been best served by government staying out of the way and allowing markets to find an answer.

Of course we can’t be complacent. We currently import around half of our gas needs, but by 2030 that could be as high as 75%.

That’s why we’re encouraging investment in our shale gas exploration so we can add new sources of home-grown supply to our real diversity of imports.

There are also economic benefits in building a new industry for the country and for communities.

Our North Sea history means the UK is a home to world class oil and gas expertise, in Aberdeen and around the UK – we should build on that base so that our shale potential can be exploited safely.

Electricity

But in the supply of electricity, with falling margins, there’s a greater challenge.

I am confident the steps we’ve taken alongside National Grid and Ofgem will ensure the security of supply in the next few years.

But, frankly, it cannot be satisfactory for an advanced economy like the UK to be relying on polluting, carbon intensive 50-year-old coal-fired power stations.

Let me be clear: this is not the future.

We need to build a new energy infrastructure, fit for the 21st century.

Much of that is already in the pipeline – new gas, such as the plant at Carrington, and of course, a large increase in renewables over the next five years and in the longer-term, new nuclear.

At the same time, we are building new interconnectors to make it easier to import cheaper electricity from Europe.

These changes are vital. Cheaper energy means lower household bills – something which matters to all of us.

But this isn’t just about making savings.

It’s about the long term security of our energy supply.

And my view is that is best served through open, competitive markets.

That is why the Prime Minister has been calling for an ambitious Energy Union for Europe – to save hardworking families money and to guarantee energy supplies for future generations.

So we welcome the report out from the EU today on the “State of the Energy Union” which lays out the steps Europe needs to take to strengthen our partnership.

And I can say to Europe that Britain stands ready to help make this vision a reality.

This is an example of where we can achieve more working together than alone, and where Europe can adapt to help its citizens where it matters to them.

But we do need to do more at home.

In the next 10 years, it’s imperative that we get new gas-fired power stations built.

We need to get the right signals in the electricity market to achieve that.

We are already consulting on how to improve the Capacity Market.

And after this year’s auction we will take stock and ensure it delivers the gas we need.

Nuclear

Gas is central to our energy secure future.

So is nuclear.

Opponents of nuclear misread the science. It is safe and reliable.

The challenge, as with other low carbon technologies, is to deliver nuclear power which is low cost as well. Green energy must be cheap energy.

But innovation is not just about trying things out in a lab and magically discovering a new energy source.

It is also about testing things at scale.

We learn from doing.

In the 13 years of the last Labour government not a single new nuclear power station was commissioned.

We are dealing with a legacy of under-investment and with Hinkley Point C planning to start generating in the mid 2020s that is already changing.

It is imperative we do not make the mistakes of the past and just build one nuclear power station.

There are plans for a new fleet of nuclear power stations, including at Wylfa and Moorside.

This could provide up to 30% of the low carbon electricity which we’re likely to need through the 2030s and create 30,000 new jobs.

This will provide low carbon electricity at the scale we need.

Climate change is a big problem, it needs big technologies.

As the former Chief Scientist at DECC, David Mackay, said: “If everyone does a little, we’ll achieve only a little. We must do a lot. What’s required are big changes.”

Offshore Wind

That’s why we should also support the growth of our world leading offshore wind industry.

In the global context this is a technology which has the scale to make a big difference.

It is one area where the UK can help make a lasting technological contribution.

On current plans we expect to see 10GW of offshore wind installed by 2020.

This is supporting a growing installation, development and blade manufacturing industry. Around 14,000 people are employed in the sector.

This ground breaking expertise has helped the costs of contracts for offshore wind come down by at least 20% in the last two years.

But it is still too expensive.

So our approach will be different – we will not support offshore wind at any cost.

Further support will be strictly conditional on the cost reductions we have seen already accelerating.

The technology needs to move quickly to cost-competitiveness.

If that happens we could support up to 10GW of new offshore wind projects in the 2020s.

The industry tells us they can meet that challenge, and we will hold them to it.

If they don’t there will be no subsidy.

No more blank cheques.

Today I can announce that – if, and only if, the Government’s conditions on cost reduction are met – we will make funding available for three auctions in this Parliament.

We intend to hold the first of these auctions by the end of 2016.

Investors have a right to clarity on our objectives. And that is what I am providing today.

New nuclear, new gas and, if costs, come down, new offshore wind will all help us meet the challenge of decarbonisation.

The Purpose of Decarbonisation

But is important to pause and answer this question: ‘what are we decarbonising for?’

Climate action is about our future economic security.

As the Foreign Secretary said last week: “In every other facet of life, we assess the risks and where the risk of occurrence is high and the impacts are potentially catastrophic, we act to mitigate and to prevent. Our approach to climate change should be no different.”

Action on climate change is linked to the action we’re taking now to reduce the deficit. It is about resilience now and in the future.

But climate change is a global problem, not a local one.

Action by one state will not solve the problem. It’s what we do together that counts.

And that is why achieving a global deal in Paris next month is so important.

A Global Deal

Paris is a city that is currently in mourning.

But in a less than two weeks’ time, we will see the leaders of the world gather there in solidarity to seek to achieve the first truly global deal on climate change.

Since I became Secretary of State I have been working with my counterparts in India, China, the US, Europe and others across the globe to help make sure we come to Paris in the best place possible.

The commitments countries have made so far are significant and a deal is tantalisingly close.

This much I know, climate change will not be solved by a group of over-tired politicians and negotiators in a conference centre.

It will take action by businesses, civil society, cities, regions and countries.

Paris must deliver a clear signal that the future is low carbon that unleashes the levels of private investment and local action needed.

Collective action works when you share the burden fairly, but also when each makes a distinctive contribution. We know that in isolation, cuts to Britain’s own greenhouse gas emissions, just 1.2% of the global total, would do little to limit climate change.

So we have to ask ourselves the important question:

What is the UK’s role in that global decarbonisation? Where can we make a difference?

Controlling Costs

Our most important task is providing a compelling example to the rest of the world of how to cut carbon while controlling costs.

As I set out earlier, it is not clear we have done that so far.

The Climate Change Act, which the Conservatives helped create, is a good model that is being copied by other countries

Long-term time-tables, regular budgets, independent review.

We are committed to meeting the UK’s 2050 target.

We are on track for our next two carbon budgets.

But it’s clear, as the Committee on Climate Change has said, that the fourth carbon budget is going to be tough to achieve.

We do need to meet that challenge, but we need be pragmatic too.

We will need action right across the economy: in transport; waste and buildings.

And we’ll be setting out our plans for meeting the fourth and fifth Carbon Budgets next year.

But simply meeting the targets we have set ourselves will not be example enough for the rest of the world to follow.

We need to get the right balance between supporting new technologies and being tough on subsidies to keep bills as low as possible.

We can only expect bill payers to support low carbon power, as long as costs are controlled.

I inherited a department where policy costs on bills had spiralled.

Subsidy should be temporary, not part of a permanent business model.

Most importantly, new, clean technologies will only be sustainable at the scale we need if they are cheap enough. When costs come down, as they have in onshore wind and solar, so should support.

For instance, we have enough onshore wind in the pipeline to meet our 2020 expectations.

That is why we set out in our manifesto that we would end any new public subsidy for onshore wind farms. The costs of solar have come down too.

Over 8GW of solar is already deployed and even with the costs controls we have proposed we expect to have around 12GW in place by 2020.

These technologies will be cost-competitive through the 2020s.

We need to work towards a market where success is driven by your ability to compete in a market. Not by your ability to lobby Government.

This will only be possible if carbon pricing works properly.

Despite its flaws, the EU Emissions Trading Scheme is exactly the kind of intervention that should be made at a European level where collective action is more powerful.

The UK has worked hard with others to get major reforms that are helping restore a more stable and robust price on carbon.

But I’m determined that we help deliver more this Parliament to restore the ETS to full health.

In the same way generators should pay the cost of pollution, we also want intermittent generators to be responsible for the pressures they add to the system when the wind does not blow or the sun does not shine.

Only when different technologies face their full costs can we achieve a more competitive market.

Coal

To set an example to the rest of the world, the UK also has to focus on where we can get the biggest carbon cuts, swiftly and cheaply.

That is hard to do when, after 20 years of action on climate change, 30% of our electricity still comes from unabated coal.

One of the greatest and most cost-effective contributions we can make to emission reductions in electricity is by replacing coal fired power stations with gas.

For centuries coal has played a central role in our energy system.

But it’s the most carbon intensive fossil fuel and damages air quality.

Gas produces half the carbon emissions of coal when used for power generation.

Unabated coal is simply not sustainable in the longer term.

In an ideal world, the carbon price provided by the ETS would phase out coal for us using market signals. But it’s not there yet.

So I want to take action now.

I am pleased to announce that we will be launching a consultation in the spring on when to close all unabated coal-fired power stations.

Our consultation will set out proposals to close coal by 2025 – and restrict its use from 2023.

If we take this step, we will be one of the first developed countries to deliver on a commitment to take coal off the system.

But let me be clear, we’ll only proceed if we’re confident that the shift to new gas can be achieved within these timescales.

Innovation

Let’s be honest with ourselves, we don’t have all the answers to decarbonisation today.

We must develop technologies that are both cheap and green.

This means unleashing innovation.

Innovation is not just about investing money in new bits of kit.

Government’s first job is to create the environment for new ideas to flourish by getting rid of the barriers that in the way. Some argue we should adapt our traditional model dominated by large power stations and go for a new, decentralised, flexible approach.

Locally-generated energy supported by storage, interconnection and demand response, offers the possibility of a radically different model.

It is not necessarily the job of Government to choose one of these models.

Government is the enabler. The market will reveal which one works and how much we need of both

A Smarter System

Smart meters are a key building block of an approach that could allow that.

Every home and small business in Britain will get them by the end of 2020.

And this is sparking some real entrepreneurial innovation.

Devices providing real-time feedback and apps are being developed that will help people work out where they are wasting energy.

This isn’t about technology for technology’s sake – it’s about using it to keep people’s bills low – and making the overall system more efficient.

A fully smart energy system could help us to reduce costs by tens of billions of pounds over the decades ahead. So are now working with Ofgem to assess what we can do.

For instance, I already have agreed with Ofgem that by early 2017 they will remove the barriers to suppliers choosing half-hourly settlement for household customers.

This will allow suppliers to offer new Time of Use tariffs so people can get a cheaper deal based on when they use energy, not necessarily how much.

We are also looking at removing other regulations that are holding back smart solutions, such as demand side response and storage.

I will shortly be launching a paper setting out some of the possibilities and we will consult formally in the spring to allow action in the autumn.

Independent Regulation

National Grid as system operator has played a pivotal role in keeping the energy market working.

But as our system changes we need to make sure it is as productive, secure and cost-effective as possible.

There is a strong case for greater independence for the system operator to allow it to make the necessary changes.

So, alongside the National Infrastructure Commission, we will work with National Grid, Ofgem and others to consider how to reform the current system operator model to make it more flexible and independent.

Independent regulation is central to a competitive market.

It’s right that Ofgem is an independent voice championing competition and cracking down when companies have treated customers badly.

That is also why we are creating the independent Oil and Gas Authority.

The North Sea still offers significant value for the UK – up to 20 billion barrels of oil equivalent could still be extracted and the industry supports 375,000 jobs.

But we need to provide clarity to investors in UK oil production

Today I am launching a consultation on a Strategy to Maximise the Economic Recovery of the North Sea.

The principle objectives this Strategy is designed to meet have been challenged and amended in the Energy Bill by the House of Lords.

We intend to overturn this amendment when the Bill is considered in the Commons.

Innovation in Supply

This system of independent regulation, alongside some of the changes we made in the last Parliament, creates the conditions for competition and innovation to flourish.

This has led to greater competition in the supply market.

There are now 26 independent suppliers and their market share has grown from under 1% in 2010 to over 13% now. And the Big 6 are losing market share every quarter.

Innovative, new suppliers, which range from start-ups to local authorities, are demonstrating how competition is working for people.

But the market is still far from perfect which is why the Competition and Markets Authority is undertaking the biggest investigation into the energy market since privatisation.

Its interim findings were not pretty for the large energy suppliers.

It remains frustrating to me that the falls in wholesale gas prices have not been passed on to most households.
This has to change.

It is also not clear that all business customers are benefiting from competition in a market that lacks transparency. The CMA shouldn’t duck these issues.

Heat

Nowhere in the energy system is the need for innovation more acute than in how we use heat to keep warm in our homes and for industrial processes.

Heat accounts for around 45% of our energy consumption and a third of all carbon emissions.

Progress to date has been slower here than in other parts of our economy.

There are technologies which have great potential, such as district heating, biogas, hydrogen and heat pumps. But it is not yet clear which will work at scale.

So different approaches need to be tested.

We need a long-term plan that will work and keeps down costs for consumers.

We will set out our approach next year, as part of our strategy to meet our carbon budgets.

Energy Efficiency

Of course, one of the best ways to cut bills and cut carbon is to cut energy use itself.

That’s why energy efficiency is so important.

For businesses, energy efficiency can reduce costs, which in turn improves productivity and competitiveness.

But the tax and policy framework designed to encourage this is complex and we are now looking at streamlining it.

More than 1.2 million households are seeing lower bills due to energy efficiency improvements over the last 5 years.

We are committed to ensuring a million more get the same benefits by the end of this Parliament.

But I am determined that help through the Energy Company Obligation is concentrated on those in greatest need.

They are the ones who live in damp and draughty homes, and they who need the most help to cut their bills.

Research and Development

So as I have said, we need to reinvigorate competition, make markets work for consumers, and build a smarter system.

Important as these steps are, they are not enough to unleash the innovation we need.

New technologies at the scale we need don’t appear out of thin air.

Nuclear power, gas-fired power stations and even shale gas emerged after years, sometimes decades of public support.

It takes the brilliance of business to commercialise them, but it often takes the patience of Government support to get them off the ground.

Energy research and development has been neglected in recent years in favour of the mass deployment of all renewable technologies.

We do not think this is right.

We cannot support every technology.

Our intervention has to be limited to where we can really make a difference – where the technology has the potential to scale up and to compete in a global market without subsidy.

DECC funding for innovation is already supporting the development of transformative technologies here in the UK. In energy storage, in low carbon transport fuels, in more efficient lighting.

These and many more examples, such as CCS, point to the creation of new industries and new jobs in the UK.

We must also build on our rich nuclear heritage and become a centre for global nuclear innovation.

This means exploiting our world leading technical expertise at centres of excellence at universities in Manchester, Sheffield and Lancaster.

It also means exploring new opportunities like Small Modular Reactors, which hold the promise of low cost, low carbon energy.

Conclusion

So ladies and gentlemen, this is the way forward:

Greater competition.

Tough on subsidies.

Concentrating on technologies that will deliver at scale.

New gas replacing coal.

Getting new nuclear off the ground.

Reducing the costs of offshore wind.

And unleashing innovation to discover the clean and cheap technologies of tomorrow.

Government should enable, not dictate.

The market should lead our choices.

Because that is the way to keep costs as low as possible.

By 2025, with a new nuclear power station built, offshore wind competing with other renewables, unabated coal a thing of the past, and smart energy coming into its own we will have transformed our energy system.

But we must remind ourselves why we are doing any of this.

Energy security provides the foundation of our future economic success. It is the top priority.

Secure energy so people can get on with their lives.

Affordable energy so the people that foot the bill, the households and businesses of Britain, get a good deal.

And clean energy to safeguard our future economic security.

David Cameron – 2016 Speech in Bavaria

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Below is the text of the speech made by David Cameron, the Prime Minister, in Bavaria, Germany on 7 January 2016.

Well thank you very much Gerda [Hasselfeldt] for the warm welcome that you have given me and let me send my thanks as well to the Minister-President and also to Angela Merkel who I had an excellent meeting with last night.

It’s a great pleasure to be back here in Bavaria and looking around, I can understand why Bavarians feel they are particularly blessed with this beautiful landscape.

It has been a pleasure to come, the relationship between Britain and Germany is so strong and so important. We look at the world in so many of the same ways. We know you have to earn money before you can spend it, we know the importance of backing enterprise and business to create jobs, we know the importance of the Atlantic Alliance for our security. We know how important it is, as we enter 2016, that we confront Islamist extremism and terrorism and that we do so together.

So our relationship is very deep and very strong as members of the European Union, as members of NATO and also the relationship between our parties as parties of the centre-right, has also been very strong and will continue to be strong in the future.

I really enjoyed the discussions here today and the presentation I was able to make. My aim is very clear – I would like to secure the future of Britain in a reformed European Union but this reform is vital.

Britain does have real issues with the way that the European Union works today and my negotiation is about dealing with each of those issues. Making sure that we’re in Europe for cooperation and to work together, that we’re not part of an ever-deepening political union, making sure that Europe is adding to the competitiveness of countries like Britain, and indeed Germany, rather than holding back our competitiveness. Making sure there are fair rules for both countries that are inside the eurozone and countries like Britain that won’t join the eurozone but want the eurozone to be a success. Who want to make sure that outside the eurozone there are no disadvantages, that we’re not called upon to support the eurozone financially.

These are important issues, as is the issue of migration and movement across Europe. Britain supports the concept of free movement. Many British citizens can go and live and work elsewhere in Europe but we want to make sure that the welfare systems – and particularly our welfare system – is not an unnatural draw to Britain because we do feel the pressure of excessive migration that we’ve had in recent years.

We believe that all these issues can be dealt with. The discussions are going well. They’re hard, they’re tough, these are difficult issues but I’m confident that with goodwill – and there is goodwill on all sides – we can bring these negotiations to a conclusion and then hold the referendum that we promised in our election manifesto and we’ve now legislated for in Parliament.

In the end, the choice will be for the British people but I want to make sure they have the very best choice of staying in a reformed European Union, giving Britain the best of both worlds.

A part of Europe for trade and cooperation, working together on the security challenges that we face, helping to keep our people safe, particularly in the difficult and dangerous world that we face. But not joining the Euro, the currency that many have in the European Union, not being part of the Schengen no borders agreement – we’ll keep our own borders in Britain and strengthen those borders. And making sure we address each and every 1 of the 4 issues that I’ve raised.

I’m even more confident after the excellent discussions I’ve had here in Bavaria with colleagues in the CSU that these things are possible, not just good for Britain but good for Europe. Not simply because other European countries will benefit by Britain continuing to be a member of Europe but I think its important that this organisation shows it has the flexibility of a network and can address concerns of individual members, rather than the rigidity of a bloc.

I’m confident we can reach good conclusions but it’ll take a lot of hard work. I’ve been very heartened by the goodwill I’ve felt from the fellow sister party members in the CSU here in Bavaria today and let me once again thank you for the warmth of your welcome. I remember coming 7 years ago and its been even more pleasurable to come back again and have these discussions with you.

Thank you.

George Osborne – 2016 Speech on the Economy

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Below is the text of the speech made by George Osborne, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, in Cardiff, Wales on 7 January 2016.

Scott, thank you and thank you for such a warm Cardiff welcome.

It’s good to see so many business leaders here today.

It’s fantastic to be back here again to see the Cardiff Business Club and talk to the people who are helping to drive forward the Welsh economy.

And it is fitting that we have Cardiff Bay as our beautiful backdrop, in typical sunshine.

From this Bay, the people of South Wales set off to lead the industrial revolution around the world.

But by the 1970s, after decades of decline, it was left derelict.

Today it is thriving again. Audiences flock to the Millennium Centre from all over the world – and get to experience that famous Welsh hospitality when they do.

Much of the development that underpinned this happened during the 1980s, spearheaded by local people working in partnership with my colleagues Nick Edwards and Michael Heseltine.

And we owe a particular debt to the late Sir Geoffrey Inkin for driving the redevelopment forward.

It is an example of the government working with you – the job creators – to deliver for Wales.

As we look across the Bay, we can all see the Welsh Assembly building on the other side.

Today I make this offer to the next Welsh government: work with us to make Wales stronger still.

We have our plan for Wales, one that support jobs, pay and rising living standards.

And the question for the whole United Kingdom is this: are we going to see through the economic plan that is delivering growth at home and security from risks abroad?

For I worry about a creeping complacency in the national debate about our economy.

A sense that the hard work at home is complete and that we’re immune from the risks abroad.

A sense we can let up, and the good economic news will just keep rolling in.

To the people peddling those views, I have a very clear warning.

Last year was the worst for global growth since the crash and this year opens with a dangerous cocktail of new threats from around the world.

For Britain, the only antidote to that is confronting complacency and delivering the plan we’ve set out.

Anyone who thinks it’s mission accomplished with the British economy is making a grave mistake.

2016 is the year we can get down to work and make the lasting changes Britain so badly needs.

Or it’ll be the year we look back at as the beginning of the decline.

This year, quite simply, the economy is mission critical.

We have to finish the job.

So let me explain, first, how the economy is mission critical here in Wales.

A lot has been done since 2010.

70,000 thousand jobs have been created.

Unemployment has fallen by 30%.

Superfast broadband has been rolled out to over half a million homes and businesses.

We pulled the eyes of the world to Newport when we chose to bring the huge NATO Summit here.

The UK Investment Summit with over 150 global investors that followed soon after saw £240 million of new investment across the UK.

And we’re seeing results: since 2010 Wales has grown faster than any part of the UK outside of London, and in the latest data employment is rising almost twice as fast as in the capital.

But ambition for Wales should not end there. I know yours doesn’t; well mine doesn’t either.

For while we’ve come a long way, we cannot be complacent.

Wales still faces the decades-old challenge that it lags behind much of the rest of the UK.

Unemployment is higher, pay is lower, and output is lower. Wales could be doing so much better.

The government recognises that Wales needs more investment.

That is why, working with Stephen Crabb, our strong and effective Welsh Secretary, we’ve just announced we’ll boost capital investment by £900 million over the next five years.

We recognise that Wales needs to be better connected to the rest of the UK.

So we are electrifying the Great Western Mainline to Swansea and giving the Welsh government early access to the capital borrowing powers to help fund the M4 relief road.

And by bringing the massive investment in HS2 to Crewe six years early, we will bind North Wales ever more closely into the Northern Powerhouse and the rest of the UK too.

We also recognise that more decisions affecting Wales should be taken here in Wales.

The Welsh Assembly already has the power to legislate on health and education; we’ve given them power to set business rates, and, from 2018, the power to set Stamp Duty and Landfill taxes too.

And soon the Assembly will have unprecedented power to set income tax as well.

Crucially, this means that the Welsh government is now going to be responsible for how they raise money, as well as how they spend it.

That will focus attention on who can deliver low taxes for the people of Wales and Welsh businesses, and who can deliver value for money. That is attention I want to see.

As a UK government we’ve committed to a City Deal for Cardiff.

This City Deal can transform this city as much as the development around the bay did a generation ago. It’s a deal that will secure Cardiff’s bright future.

We will support a new infrastructure fund for the Cardiff Capital Region as part of this.

It demonstrates our ambition for the Cardiff region and I want to see the deal signed by the time of the Budget in March. So let’s get on with it.

Wales is an incredibly exciting, innovative nation, home to world class research and pioneers of technology. I want Wales to be at the centre of the high tech economy of the future.

Steven and I have been to Cardiff Uni to see brilliant work on semiconductors with companies such as IQE.

So today I can tell you that we will establish a new UK national centre – based here in Wales – that will develop the semiconductors that are at the heart of modern technology. It will be part of our network of R&D catapults.

It will bring together scientists and businesses with expertise in this cutting edge technology. It will create jobs, here. Bring investment here.

And I’m committing £10 million this year and every year for the rest of the decade, £50 million in total, so that we build the future here in Wales.

I see it as a down-payment on our side of the deal.

Here’s a striking fact and a challenge for us all.

If the growth rate in Wales matched that of the UK average, the economy would be around £6 billion bigger by 2030.

That is almost £1,900 more per person here than if Wales continues at its current pace.

And if employment increased by as much in this Parliament as in the last, there would be over 60,000 more people in work in Wales by 2020.

There can be no room for complacency about Wales’ future.

And there can be no room for complacency when it comes to Britain’s economic future too.

We are only seven days into the New Year, and already we’ve had worrying news about stock market falls around the world, the slowdown in China, deep problems in Brazil and in Russia.

In just one week in December South Africa had three separate finance ministers…a stat no Chancellor likes to read about.

Commodity prices have fallen very significantly.

Oil, which was over $120 a barrel in 2012, dipped below $35 earlier this week.

That is good for consumers and business customers here in Britain, bad news for the oil and gas industry, worrying for the creditors who have lent to it, and a massive problem for the countries that depend on it.

And all of it adds to the volatility and sense of uncertainty in the world.

Meanwhile, the political developments in the Middle East, with Saudi Arabia and Iran, concern us all.

Alongside this short-term turbulence there is a long-term trend economists worry about.

It is an idea that date back to the depression-era 1930s dubbed ‘secular stagnation’

And it results in predictions that Western economies might not grow at all.

The concern is that demographic changes – an aging population – means a rise in global savings.

At the same time entrepreneurs stop innovating.

They don’t want to set up companies or expand and so don’t want to borrow those savings to invest.

But when the demand for borrowing is so weak firms will only take a loan when interest rates are ultra-low.

And the so called ‘natural’ rate of interest – this is the rate needed to keep the economy growing at a healthy pace – falls permanently.

Some of the predictions from the 1930s were stark.

They spoke of “sick recoveries which die in their infancy.”

Slumps with an “immovable core of unemployment.”

That’s not been Britain’s story these last few years.

But think of much of the rest of the western world since the crash.

Many places have seen stop-start recoveries; others persistent high unemployment.

Some economists have revived the idea of secular stagnation for the modern age – warning that we will either get stagnation and unemployment, or, where there is growth it will be pinned on asset price bubbles.

They pose these economics for us what seems like an impossible choice:

Do you keep rates ultra-low to boost your economy, but accept the risk of bubbles?

Or do you hike rates to avoid bubbles, and accept an economic slowdown?

I’m determined to show that this choice is a false one.

That you can have sustained growth and new innovation and a strong savings culture, and by doing these things lay the foundations for higher living standards for decades to come.

And our economic plan – which backs investment and the generation of new ideas like the catapult here for compound semiconductors, and puts in place checks on debt and bubbles – is the way to achieve that.

Economies grow and prosper when there is a security and confidence about the long term. We’re providing that here in Britain with our economic plan.

So what is our response to the current risks in the global economy?

It’s not to cut ourselves off, and isolate Britain.

You don’t avoid the world’s problems by trying to pretend, in the modern age, that we can be completely self-contained.

No, our problem is that we haven’t had strong enough links with many of the fastest growing parts of the world.

That is because we were complacent in the run up to the crash. We didn’t go out there and build those links with the rest of the world.

Well now we are.

Our determination to be China’s strongest partner in the West is opening up new markets for our businesses and bringing new investment and jobs to our shores.

We have an excellent relationship with India but we can do more. So we will, and the Indian Finance Minister Arun Jaitley is coming to Britain later this month to make that happen.

We’re working with the US and the EU to agree a new Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, a big trade deal that could increase the size of our economy by £10 billion per year.

And with our partners in Europe, we’re seeking ambitious reforms that will make a real difference to the British people.

What could be more complacent than acknowledging Europe needs to change and can work better for Britain; but then to say: that’s just the way it is in Europe – there’s nothing we can do about it?

Under the strong leadership of David Cameron, we’re working flat out to get a better deal and then we’ll put it to a vote and the British people will decide.

There’s also much more we can do at home to strengthen our economy and build for the future.

Productivity lies at the heart of a healthy, growing economy. Because when output per hour is higher firms can pay their workers more, and return larger dividends to their investors.

What does that mean? It means more money and higher living standards for families.

Delivering that requires action to address historic weaknesses in the British economy.

We have suffered a chronic shortage when it comes to skills for decades – so next year we’re introducing our important new apprenticeship levy on all large firms.

The levy will fund three million apprenticeships in England – with firms offering apprenticeship able to get out more than they put in. And Wales will get its fair share of the support too.

It’s a major reform to raise the skills of the nation.

Another weakness is that Britain has always been too slow to build.

Late last year I set up the National Infrastructure Commission.

Its independent group of world-class experts; it’s already hard at work, led by Andrew Adonis.

Today we are publishing a consultation which set outs the structure and operation of the commission.

It represents a huge shift.

The old way – short termism and a failure to think ahead – is out.

Long term thinking is in.

And I’m looking forward to receiving the first ideas from the new Commission by the time of the Budget.

Getting infrastructure decisions right in 2016 is mission critical.

So too is our plan to boost the wages of Britain’s low paid.

If we’re complacent, Britain could find itself going the way of some other Western nations and become a society of higher welfare bills, higher taxes to pay them and lower wages as a result.

We need to do the opposite. That doesn’t happen by itself. It needs a plan and decisive action.

So we’re reducing welfare costs and ensuring it always pays to work, with major reforms to our benefit system.

We’re cutting taxes on income – in April the tax-free personal allowance will reach £11,000.

We’re making further major cuts to corporation tax to give us the lowest rate of any major economy in the world.

And we’re bringing in the new National Living Wage in April. The new rate of £7.20 will mean a £900 increase in the annual earnings of a full-time worker.

This is how we build the higher wage, lower welfare, lower tax society Britain needs.

And we’re going to make sure those wages go further too.

So we have committed to a big push on competition. Again, competition doesn’t just happen.

If you’re not active in promoting it, monopolies creep in, vested interests take control.

Last autumn I asked Treasury economists to look at 10 core markets – things like banking, telecoms, the utilities and insurance – to make sure customers are getting good deals.

They found a typical household spent close to 40% of their disposable income in these markets.

But they also found inefficiencies: a lack of competition in some markets, opaque pricing and people paying too much in others.

The steps we are taking to cut out those distortions mean households could save close to £500 a year.

And over the course of this Parliament we will go further, removing the obstacles to allow new competitors to enter protected markets.

I’ll give you some examples. It means online pharmacies that deliver prescriptions to the door; it means giving people choice over their water supplier; and making it easier for places like supermarkets to provide legal services.

One of the biggest monthly bills many people pay is their mortgage – and an important source of income for people is their savings.

So it’s no wonder that people are starting to talk about what a rise in interest rates might mean for us all.

Of course, interest rates are not something for me to set. That’s for the independent Monetary Policy Committee at the Bank of England.

But inevitably, with the US Federal Reserve having made their decision to raise rates last month, there is a discussion about how and when we begin to move out of a world of ultra-low rates.

Let’s be clear, higher interest rates are a sign of a stronger economy.

The job of government is to make sure we’ve got in place the policies to monitor overall levels of indebtedness across families and the wider economy, while backing savings too.

That doesn’t just happen by itself.

It requires positive action and a plan, and that’s what we’ve put in place.

So I’ve created a powerful new Financial Policy Committee in the Bank of England that can check overall levels of debt in the economy, and deal with specific risks such as the buy-to-let mortgage market.

These steps are not always popular, but they do make our economy more resilient.

British families have also worked hard these past few years to reduce their debts – and so debt as a proportion of income has fallen.

But there is more to do to make sure British household finances are sound.

40% of British adults don’t have a week’s wages put aside to cover an unexpected expense, and almost half don’t have any pension savings.

Of course, putting money aside is often difficult, every family is different – and it’s up to each one to make their own decisions about when it’s right to borrow and when it’s right to save.

But that is not an excuse for government inaction and complacency.

Overall we must make it easier and more attractive for people to save.

For while there may be a global glut of savings, here in Britain not enough people on lower and middle incomes are saving for their retirement.

That’s why we’ve got a plan to change that: auto-enrolment – the scheme where employers enrol all employees into a pension – is having a huge impact: there are three million more people are saving into a pension compared to just two years ago.

We’ve made pension saving more attractive – by removing the restrictions on how people can spend their savings when they reach retirement.

We’ve massively increased ISA limits – the most popular way for people to save tax-free.

Last month we launched our Help to Buy ISA – already over 140,000 people have opened an account and are starting to save for their first home.

And in April we’re introducing our new state pension. It will be far simpler than the current system, more progressive and much fairer to women.

It’s all part of supporting saving for everyone. And there’s more critical work to do in 2016.

There’s also work to do to shake the national debate out of that sense of complacency about our economic prospects that I talked about earlier.

Yes, the British economy has performed better than almost anyone dared to hope. And as an issue, the economy has slipped down the list of everyday concerns.

But the biggest risk is that we all think that it’s “job done”. Many encourage this, irresponsibly suggesting that we can just go back to the bad old ways and spend beyond our means for evermore.

Though the year is only seven days old, already we’d had their predictable calls for billions of pounds, literally billions more debt-fuelled public spending.

They reject all the reforms we propose to deliver better-quality public services for less taxpayers’ money.

Today I want to issue this warning: unless we finish the job of fixing the public finances, to get Britain back into the black by finally spending less than we borrow, all of the progress we have made together could still easily be reversed.

That’s why we’ve got to go on fixing the roof while sun is shining.

The prize for us all if we do is that Britain could become the most prosperous of all the major nations in the world in the coming generation.

In 2015 we won the support of the British people for our economic plan – and we set out in the Budget and Autumn Statement the means to achieve that.

We established new fiscal rules to reduce debt and get that surplus.

We set out department spending plans that mean we live within our means.

Taken together, it is part of a huge national effort to get our house in order – what the Office for Budget Responsibility describes as the biggest reduction in government consumption outside of demobilisation in over 100 years.

If 2015 was the year for setting out that plan – 2016 is the year for the delivery of it.

That is why it is so critical.

Economic security and sound public finances don’t just happen – they require hard effort and continued application.

And this year we will require that. You know – as do I – that none of us can see the future.

We don’t know what exactly will happen to the global economy.

We don’t know when the next turn of the cycle will come.

But we do know that we haven’t abolished boom and bust.

So there is no excuse for inaction. We are in charge of our own destiny.

We can back infrastructure investment and innovation.

We can be an outward facing nation – forging new and stronger links with the rest of the world.

We can continue to support higher pay, lower tax and consumer markets that foster choice and competition.

We can do more to support savers.

This plan is what Wales, and the UK, needs.

And it is why the economy remains centre stage to everything we want to achieve in this country.

So 2016 is not mission accomplished. But our future is very much in our hands.

This year is mission critical year.

Now is the time to make the long term decisions to secure our country’s future.

And in the forthcoming Budget and beyond, that’s precisely what I’ll do, for Wales and for the whole of the UK.

David Cameron – 2016 Speech in Hungary

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Below is the text of the speech made by David Cameron, the Prime Minister, in Budapest, Hungary on 7 January 2016.

Well thank you very much and thank you Viktor [Orbán] for the warmth of your welcome and for your friendship and your support. As you say, it’s a decade since a British Prime Minister has been to Hungary. That’s far too long and I’m delighted to be here today.

I came to your country as a student in 1985. I came as a young man a couple of times, actually, in the 1990s and later, and it’s great to be back here as Prime Minister and to see the incredible progress of this country and to see your Prime Ministership and economy that is growing, unemployment that is low, and a very successful Hungarian economy it is. And thank you for what you said about Britain’s investment. It is a strong economic relationship we have, and a number of British companies are operating here, and I would like to see that number increase.

Britain and Hungary have important and close relations. We’re both members of NATO, enthusiastic members of NATO. We’re both members of the European Union. And we’ve worked together very closely. I think we share a lot of the same perspectives about Europe. We want a Europe that works, but we want a Europe that respects nation states, and a Europe that does not try to do everything, that recognises the role of nations states and believes in subsidiarity, that there are many things that are better left for countries to do themselves. But we should cooperate where we can achieve goals that suit us all.

We’ve discussed at some length the European reform agenda that I’ve put forward and the 4 points, the 4 areas where we think there needs to be progress. We want to see a Europe where, of course if some countries want to integrate further, they can, but for Britain this is not an ever-closer union. This is a cooperation over economics, over things we share in common, over policies where we can advance our mutual interests, but we don’t believe in an ever-deepening political project for Britain.

We want, as you said, a Europe that adds to our competitiveness, not that takes away from our competitiveness. We want a Europe that’s signing trade deals with the fastest-growing areas of the world, that’s completing the single market in energy, in services and digital; things that can drive the growth in jobs that we want to see in our countries. We want a Europe that has fair rules for those countries that are in the eurozone and those countries that are outside the eurozone. And this is, I think, an area where Britain and Hungary can make common cause. We want to make sure, yes, that the euro is a success. That is important for my economy, important for your economy. But we need to make sure that those of us outside the eurozone suffer no disadvantage, suffer no discrimination. And I think it’s important we get that right in the discussions we have.

And finally we have discussed the issue of welfare and of the movement of people. Let me be clear, I support the free movement of people. People in Britain welcome the fact they are able to go and live and work in other European countries. But what matters is that we deal with the scale and the pressures that sometimes that movement can create. And Britain’s welfare system has provided something of an additional draw in terms of movement of people, and it’s that that my proposal of the 4-year wait for welfare benefits is designed to address.

So we’ve had good discussions. We obviously now have a limited time between now and the February European Council, but I’m confident that, if we work hard with goodwill on all sides, we should try for an agreement at that Council. But as I have said, I only have to hold my referendum by the end of 2017. If it takes longer to make an agreement, then obviously what matters to me is the substance rather than the timing.

We’ve also discussed the important issues of mutual concern. The migration crisis into the European Union, where I think we have many common perspectives. We agree we have got to solve these problems upstream. We need a peace deal in Syria. We should go on supporting, as Britain does very generously, Syrian refugees in Lebanon, in Turkey, in Jordan and indeed in Syria itself. I quite agree with Viktor that Europe needs strong external borders and those that help provide those strong external borders I believe are doing very much the right thing.

We talked about the crisis in Syria and how we can work together. We’ve talked about the work that we’re doing to confront Daesh and Islamist extremism, and the very welcome contribution that Hungarian forces are making as part of the coalition. And we’ve also discussed relations with Russia and the importance of Europe working together, particularly over implementing the Minsk Agreement with respect to Ukraine.

So it’s been a very good meeting. Viktor and I have worked together now for many years. I look forward to working with you for many more years in the future, and I think there are important perspectives that we share, not just on Europe, but on defence, on NATO, and on these broader issues too. So thank you for the welcome, it’s very good to be back and I promise it won’t be another 10 years before a British Prime Minister, indeed this British prime minister, comes back to Hungary.

Thank you.

David Cameron – 2016 Statement on European Council

davidcameron

Below is the text of the statement made by David Cameron, the Prime Minister, in the House of Commons, London, on 5 January 2016.

With permission, Mr Speaker, I would like to make a statement on the European Council meeting which took place before Christmas.

The Council focused on 3 issues – migration, terrorism and the UK’s renegotiation.

I’ll take each in turn.

Migration

First, on migration, even in winter there are still many migrants coming to Europe, with over 3,000 arriving via the eastern Mediterranean route each day.

Now of course, Britain is not part of the Schengen open border arrangements and we’re not going to be joining.

We have our own border controls and our border controls apply to everyone attempting to enter the UK and every day those border controls help to keep us safe.

Let me repeat: these controls apply to all – including EU citizens and we have stopped nearly 95,000 people at our borders since 2010, including almost 6,000 EU nationals.

These people were not allowed to come in. What Schengen countries are now trying trying to put in place are a pale imitation of what we already have.

What they do is, of course, a matter for them. But it is in our interests to help our European partners secure their external borders.

So we have provided more technical expertise to the European Asylum Support Office than any other European country including practical assistance to help with registering and fingerprinting of migrants when they arrive in countries like Greece and Italy.

We have also focused on the root causes – not just the consequences – of the migration crisis.

That is why we continue to play a leading role in the efforts of the International Syria Support Group to end the conflict in Syria through a political process and that’s why we have backed the agreement reached in Morocco which should pave the way for a new united, national government in Libya.

We have deployed HMS Enterprise in the Mediterranean to go after the people traffickers. We have provided £1.12 billion in humanitarian assistance for the Syrian conflict – by far the largest commitment of any European country, and second only to America.

Find out about Syria refugees: UK government response
And the donor conference that I am hosting next month together with Germany, Kuwait, Norway and the United Nations will help further, raising significant new funding to help refugees in the region this year.

Mr Speaker, the Council focused on implementing the previously agreed measures on refugee resettlement.

In Britain, we said that we would resettle 20,000 Syrian refugees during this Parliament, taking them directly from the camps.

And I can tell the House that – exactly as promised – over 1,000 Syrian refugees from camps in Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon were resettled here in time for Christmas. These people are now in homes, their children are starting this new year in our schools and they can look forward to building a new life here in Britain.

I know many in this House have called for us to take more refugees, or take part in EU relocation and resettlement schemes.

The reality is that we have already done significantly more than most of our EU partners in this regard.

Indeed the House might be interested to hear the figures. By the time of the December Council, only 208 refugees had been relocated within the EU – that was out of the 160,000 agreed. And in all other member states put together, according to the most recent statistics, just 483 refugees had been resettled from outside the EU under the EU’s voluntary resettlement scheme.

The point is clear: we’ve said what we would do – and got on and done it.

Terrorism

Turning to terrorism, the latest appalling video from Daesh is a reminder of their brutality and barbarism. It is desperate stuff from an organisation that hates us not for what we do, but for what we are – a democratic multi-faith, multi-ethnic nation built on tolerance, democracy and respect for human rights.

Mr Speaker, Britain will never be cowed by terror. We will stand up and defend our values and our way of life. And with patience and persistence we will defeat these extremists and eradicate this evil organisation.

Mr Speaker, I am sure the whole House will want to join with me in paying tribute to the British servicemen and women who have spent this Christmas and New Year away from their families.

In the last month RAF aircraft have conducted 82 strikes in Iraq and Syria. In recent weeks the priority of the international coalition has been supporting the Iraqi Security Forces’ successful recapture of Ramadi, to which our air strikes made an important contribution. They have also helped Kurdish forces repel major Daesh counter-attacks in northern Iraq.

In Syria, there have been 11 RAF strike missions, 10 against Daesh controlled oil infrastructure and 1 against Daesh terrorists near Raqqah. And we continue to fly intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions, providing vital support to our other coalition partners.

In terms of the discussion at the Council, we now have a clear agreement on new rules to share passenger name records. This is a vital breakthrough but we still need to go further.

So the Council agreed to take forward urgent proposals on more systematic data-sharing on stepping up our co-operation on aviation security and on working together to do even more to starve Daesh of money and resources – choking off the oil and clamping down on firearms and explosives, to stop them getting into the hands of terrorists.

We also agreed to do more across Europe to counter the extremist propaganda and the poisonous ideology of Islamist extremism that is the root cause of the terrorism we face.

The Daesh threat is a threat to us all – and we must stand together to defeat it.

UK renegotiation

Mr Speaker, turning to the UK renegotiation, I have set out the 4 areas where Britain is seeking significant and far-reaching reforms.

On sovereignty and subsidiarity, where Britain must not be part of an ‘ever closer union’ and where we want a greater role for national Parliaments.

On competitiveness, where the EU must add to our competitiveness, rather than detract from it, by signing new trade deals, cutting regulation and completing the single market.

On fairness for countries inside and outside the eurozone, where the EU must protect the integrity of the single market and ensure there is no disadvantage, discrimination or additional costs for a country like Britain – which is not in the euro and which is never, in my view, going to join the euro.

And on migration, where we need to tackle abuses of the right to free movement, and deliver changes that ensure that our welfare system is not an artificial draw for people to come to Britain.

Mr Speaker, this is the first time a country has tried to renegotiate its membership of the EU from a standing start.

Many doubted it was even possible.

But at this Council we had an entire session focused on this issue, lasting several hours, and with almost every European leader contributing.

I am happy to go into detail on what was an extensive discussion.

But the key points were these.

There was strong support for Britain to stay in the EU. European leaders began their remarks not by saying Britain is better off in Europe, but that Europe would be better off with Britain staying in it. And all wanted to reach an agreement that would address the concerns we have raised.

There was extensive discussion on all 4 areas. Difficulties were raised with all 4. And the most difficult issues were around free movement and welfare. But there was a great deal of goodwill.

And at the end of the discussion the Council agreed – and I quote directly from the conclusions – that we would “work closely together to find mutually satisfactory solutions in all the 4 areas”.

I think it is significant that the conclusions talk about solutions – not compromises.

And I made clear that these solutions would require changes that are legally binding and irreversible.

So Mr Speaker, while each of these areas will require hard work, I believe there is now a pathway to an agreement.

Later this week I am continuing my efforts to secure that agreement with further discussions in Germany and Hungary.

And I hope we can reach a full agreement when the Council meets again next month.

But what matters is getting the substance right, not the speed of the deal.

If we can see this through and secure these changes, we will succeed in fundamentally changing the UK’s relationship with the EU and finally addressing the concerns that the British people have over our membership.

And if we can’t, then as I have said before I rule nothing out.

My intention is that at the conclusion of the renegotiation, the government should reach a clear recommendation and then the referendum will be held.

It is the nature of a referendum that it is the people not the politicians who decide.

And as indicated before Christmas, there will be a clear government position, but it will be open to individual ministers to take a different personal position while remaining part of the government.

Ultimately it will be for the British people to decide this country’s future by voting in or out of a reformed European Union in the referendum that only we promised and that only a Conservative majority government was able to deliver.

And I commend this statement to the House.

Theresa May – 2016 Statement on Counter-Terrorism

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Below is the text of the statement made by Theresa May, the Home Secretary, in the House of Commons, London on 5 January 2016.

With permission, Mr Speaker, I would like to make a statement about our work to counter the threat we face from terrorism in light of the latest propaganda video from Daesh.

This weekend Daesh released a video depicting the sickening murder of five men who they had accused of spying for Britain. The video also featured a young boy.

I would like to echo the Prime Minister’s words that this is a barbaric and appalling video. Daesh seek to intimidate and spread hateful propaganda, but in doing so they only expose their own depravity and the emptiness of their proposition.

The House will understand that this is an ongoing police investigation and I cannot comment further while that investigation continues. To do so could prejudice the outcome of any future judicial process. And for the same reason, I cannot comment on the alleged identities of the man or the child in the video.

Since the start of the conflict in Syria, more than 800 people from the UK who are of national security concern are thought to have travelled to the region, and we believe that around half of those have returned. Those who have travelled include young women and families.

We have seen deadly Daesh-inspired terrorist attacks in Europe and other countries including the attacks last year in Paris, Lebanon, Turkey, Kuwait and Tunisia, where 30 British nationals along with others were murdered at a tourist resort.

Mr Speaker, it is imperative that the police and security services have the resources and the powers they need to keep us safe.

Since 2010, we have protected the counter-terrorism policing budget. As we announced in November, through the Strategic Defence and Security Review, we have made new funding available to the security and intelligence agencies. This will provide for an additional 1,900 officers – an increase of 15% – at MI5, MI6 and GCHQ to better respond to the threat we face from international terrorism, cyber-attacks and other global risks.

We have also strengthened the powers available to the police and security and intelligence agencies.

In 2013, I updated the criteria governing the use of the Royal Prerogative, which allows the Government to cancel the passports of those planning to travel to engage in terrorist-related activity overseas. And in 2014, I removed 24 passports from people intending to travel for terrorism-related activity.

Last year, the Counter-Terrorism and Security Act provided new powers to deal specifically with the problem of foreign fighters, and prevent radicalisation. This included a new power to temporarily seize the passports of those suspected of intending to leave the UK in connection with terrorism-related activity. These powers have been used on more than 20 occasions and in some cases have led to longer-term disruptive action such as use of the Royal Prerogative to permanently cancel a British passport.

And in November, we published the draft Investigatory Powers Bill, which is currently undergoing pre-legislative scrutiny.

Since April last year, exit checks have been in place on all international commercial scheduled air, sea and rail services using the UK. The information this provides is already supporting our intelligence work, enabling us to make appropriate interventions. In addition, the UK has joined the European watchlist system – so-called SIS II – meaning we are now alerted when any individual is stopped at a border checkpoint or by police anywhere in Europe and is checked against the system.

And through our Prevent and Channel programmes we are working to protect people from being drawn into terrorism. In partnership with industry we are working to secure the removal of extremist videos through the police Counter-Terrorism Internet Referral Unit. They are currently securing the removal of around 1,000 pieces of unlawful terrorist-related content every week.

It is clear Daesh will continue to try and poison minds, and to hurt people in Europe and other parts of the world. We must not let that happen and we stand with all those who want to stop them.

Time and again we have seen people of all faiths and backgrounds join together and demonstrate their opposition to terror, and to stand for democracy and freedom.

Britain will not be intimidated by Daesh, and together, we will defeat them.

Liz Truss – 2016 Speech to Oxford Farming Conference

Liz Truss
Liz Truss

Below is the text of the speech made by Liz Truss, the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, to the Oxford Farming Conference on 6 January 2016.

Thank you. 2015 was a tough year in farming, ending with a very tough time indeed in Cumbria, Lancashire and Yorkshire. People had been getting ready to celebrate Christmas, but found themselves instead cleaning out their homes, clearing debris off fields and disposing of dead livestock.

Our immediate effort has been focused on the emergency and on restoring infrastructure and communications, and we have made available grants of up to £20,000 for farmers. In the longer term, we are working to build resilience and farmers have a key role to play.

Global challenges

The flooding we have had to confront is one of a whole set of interlinked challenges in the environment, food and farming that face Britain and the world. They are of strategic importance.

In this room today, we have many of the people with the bold and ambitious vision to tackle those challenges and seize the opportunities they bring.

There are going to be well over 9 billion people in the world by 2050, needing 50 per cent more food and water than today. We will have to meet this demand while reducing the impact on the environment, and while extreme weather becomes more frequent.

The shape of the global economy is in flux, bringing ever-more intense competition and price volatility – and new economic superpowers. Our relations with China are entering a golden era. Last year, I led our biggest-ever delegation of food businesses to what is now the world’s most valuable food market.

The growth in world trade and prosperity will bring huge opportunities to sell our high-value, superb quality food and drink as long as we are at our most productive and competitive.

The people who reap full advantage will be the ones with the skills, the innovation, the investment—and the ambition.

Re-making Defra

Defra is reshaping itself to step up to this new level of challenge and opportunity, helping Britain be a global leader in farming.

We have secured £2.7 billion to invest in capital – 12 per cent more than in the previous five years. That includes a doubling of investment in our world-class capabilities in science and animal and plant health. We will invest in technology, digital systems, growing our exports, world-leading science, protection against animal health and plant disease – and of course flood defences. This will enable us to modernise Defra and turn it into a trailblazer for government.

In the past, Defra and its agencies have been accused of operating in silos. One bit of the network would be looking at flood protection, another at farming, another the environment, without linking up all the challenges. And we have been criticised for taking too much decision-making out of local hands. We have duplicated functions like human resources and IT, meaning we have not always provided best value for money. While it is right that we manage major national risks, we should not seek to micro-manage everything.

This is changing. Defra and its organisations like the Environment Agency, APHA, the RPA and Natural England will in the future be more integrated, operating towards clear shared goals. And from July, the Environment Agency and Natural England will be using the same boundaries and the same plan. There will be one back office so we can put more resources into the front line, helping us save 15 per cent from our running costs, improving the value we provide to the taxpayer.

Under the leadership of James Bevan and James Cross, these organisations will be more pragmatic, responsive to local communities and better value.

The need for a joined-up, bold vision is what has inspired the 25-year plans we will publish in the next few months for food and farming and for the environment.

We will decentralise decision-making. That’s the approach we are taking with the Somerset Rivers Authority and the Cumbrian Floods Partnership – I am glad the Communities Secretary has given the Authority the power to raise a Shadow Precept from this April on the way to long-term local funding.

Subject to parliamentary approval, we will also allow farmers across the country to maintain ditches up to 1.5km long from April, so they can dredge and clear debris and manage the land to stop it getting waterlogged. This follows the successful pilots we started two years ago. We will also soon announce proposals to give internal drainage boards and other groups more power to maintain local watercourses.

Our reforms will also help farmers by getting rid of unnecessary red tape. It will become simpler to apply for permits. We will cut thousands more inspections with the Single Farm Inspection Task Force.

And we are improving the way the RPA operates under Mark Grimshaw’s leadership. 2015 was a very challenging year – with a complex new CAP and tough international markets. Despite the majority of payments being made by December 31st, as we pledged, I recognise cash-flow is an issue for many. That’s why I am making sure the RPA has all the resources it needs to make sure payments go out as soon as possible.

Brussels

If our food and farming industry is to power ahead, it is vital that Brussels becomes more flexible, more competitive and cuts the red tape.

That is why I am fighting for reforms like getting rid of the three-crop rule, reforming the over-the-top audit and controls regime, and the absurd requirement for farmers to put up ugly posters in the countryside to publicise EU funding.

I fully support the Prime Minister’s renegotiation of our relationship with the EU. I have seen how hard he is fighting to get a better deal for Britain. Of course it is difficult – negotiating with 27 countries will never be easy. But front and centre of our mind is Britain’s economic and national security. Let me give you one example: improving Europe’s competitiveness is a key plank of our reforms, and I can see what it would mean for our farmers and food producers.

It would make Europe more flexible, outward-looking and dynamic, and we could see faster progress on a China Free Trade agreement. That will mean our dairy producers no longer paying 15 percent tariffs. And it could make a real difference to companies like Cranswick in Yorkshire, who employ 5,000 people and have contributed to the doubling of our food trade with China over the past five years. There is a huge prize at stake and one worth fighting for.

In the end, the British people will decide. Because we made a promise and kept it – to deliver an in-out referendum.

Productivity and competitiveness

This country already has some of the best farmers in the world. Many of them are in this room. And I am proud that our food is produced to world-leading standards of quality, safety, traceability and animal welfare. To make the most of this talent and quality, we need to work with farmers to raise our productivity and close the gap with some of our leading competitors.

That means supporting businesses to increase investment, improve skills across the sector, grasp innovation opportunities and make the most of one of our most precious assets, the Great British Brand.

Investment

Farming businesses have invested strongly in recent years and we need to drive that forward. We need more capital going into the right investments to improve productivity in farming and throughout the food chain. That includes foreign investment – in 2014, foreign companies invested more in British food and drink than in all other manufacturing put together.

We are providing support with our reforms to tax averaging and investment allowances that will help farmers plan capital spending for the long term.

The best managers in farming are putting money into skills, innovation and the right technology to boost productivity and profits. I would like to see this best practice spread right across the industry.

Innovation and skills

Britain has some of the most visionary scientists in the world at places like Rothamsted and John Innes. We have world-famous colleges and universities like Cirencester and Harper Adams, who are training a new generation of farmers.

In addition, the government is putting £80 million into centres for livestock, crop health, precision engineering and data. We are developing the Food Innovation Network, announced by the Prime Minister last summer, to make sure ambitious entrepreneurs are linked up to the latest scientific knowledge. And we will be raising skill levels across the workforce by trebling the number of apprentices in food and farming.

British brand

2016 will be the Year of GREAT British Food, opening a long-term campaign. We are going to have a calendar of trade missions and events in the UK that showcase businesses big and small.

Our farmers are intensely proud of British produce and for years they have wanted to get the message out. I am pleased that the beef, lamb and pork levy boards, as part of the AHDB, will be involved in the campaign and celebrating the British origin of their produce in everything they do.

And people will know meat will be British, thanks to the new rules on country of origin labelling for pork, lamb and chicken that came into force last April.

The new Great British Food Unit, which we promised in our manifesto, started work this week, bringing practical help and expertise, particularly for producers breaking into new markets. We have already made improvements, bringing in a 24-hour turnaround time for export health certificates.

Resilience

We have to sharpen our competitiveness and productivity and look outwards, and we have to build up our resilience to the growing risk of shocks and events from the changing climate and increased global trade.

Floods

There is no single answer to improve our resilience to flooding. Dredging, tree planting, improved defences, all have a role to play.

For the first time we have put in place a 6-year programme for flood defences of £2.3 billion – a real terms increase in investment. More than half of our best-quality land is on plains where there is a potential risk. And over this decade we will be protecting an additional million acres – 580,000 in the last parliament and a further 420,000 by 2021.

The new Natural Capital Committee led by Dieter Helm will, as part of its remit, look at catchment management and upstream solutions to flooding, learning from innovative programmes like Slowing the Flow in Pickering, which works with nature to reduce risk.

And our National Flood Resilience review, which will report in the summer, is stress-testing the way we assess risk to make sure we build the right defences in the right places in the light of the latest science on climate change.

Animal disease

We are also improving our resilience to animal disease by investing around £65 million in new capital. This will bring us state-of-the-art laboratories and fund the upgrade of our bio-containment facilities at Weybridge, securing our ability to fight diseases like swine fever and avian flu.

I am absolutely committed to eradicate TB. We are making good progress against what is the gravest animal disease threat facing Britain, with half of England due to be declared TB-free by 2020.

Our approach of tackling the disease both in cattle and wildlife has worked in Australia and is working in Ireland and New Zealand.

Thanks to the efforts and dedication of local farmers, all three areas – Somerset, Gloucestershire and Dorset – hit their target in 2015. The Chief Veterinary Officer is clear this policy needs to be followed over a wider area to secure full disease control benefits. That’s why I announced, in line with his advice, I want to see culling in more areas this year.

New cases of TB are levelling off, but we still have the highest rate in Europe. I will do whatever it takes to get rid of this terrible disease.

Conclusion

We have a long-term plan to improve competitiveness and build Britain’s resilience. The global challenges we face bring huge opportunities for new prosperity, jobs, environmental progress and global leadership.

This will require bold ambition and bold solutions from government and from industry. Britain is well placed to succeed, we have a proud heritage and, I believe, an even prouder future. Together we can make sure our food producers will take the lead in feeding the world.

Thank you.

David Cameron – 2016 New Year Speech

davidcameron

Below is the text of the speech made by David Cameron, the Prime Minister, on 1 January 2016.

It’s a new year. And with our economy growing and a strong, majority government in power, Britain begins it with renewed strength.

There are no new year’s resolutions for us, just an ongoing resolve to deliver what we promised.

Security – at every stage of your life.

Over 31 million people will begin the year in work – more than any in our history.

Six million children will start the new term at a good or outstanding school.

More than half a million workers will be taken out of income tax in April, as everyone apart from the very best paid gets a tax cut and, for the lowest paid, there will be a new National Living Wage.

Meanwhile, millions more will benefit from the free childcare, new academies, rising pensions and extra apprenticeships that we committed to, all as a result of our long-term economic plan.

We also promised something else: giving you a say on Europe. Now we are delivering on that promise. There will be an in-out referendum by the end of 2017 – it is written into the law of the land. I am negotiating hard to fix the things that most annoy British people about our relationship with the EU.

There is just one thing that drives me: what is best for the national interest of our country?

But in the end it will be for you to decide: is our economic and national security in a dangerous world better protected by being in, or out?

We also go into the year confronting some deep social problems, ones that have blighted our country for too long.

I want 2016 to be the time when we really start to conquer them – a crucial year in this great turnaround decade.

Because with economic renewal and social reform, we can make everyone’s lives more secure.

So if you’re one of the many hard-working young people locked out of the housing market, we will deliver the homes that will help lead you to your own front door.

If you’re off school or out of work, trapped in an underworld of addiction, abuse, crime and chaos, we will sweep away state failure and help give you stability.

If your dreams have been dashed simply because of who you are, we will fight discrimination and deliver real opportunity, to help lay your path to success.

And we will take on another social problem, too.

When our national security is threatened by a seething hatred of the west, one that turns people against their country and can even turn them into murderous extremists. I want us to be very clear: you will not defeat us. And we will not just confront the violence and the terror.

We will take on their underlying, poisonous narrative of grievance and resentment. We will come down hard on those who create the conditions for that narrative to flourish. And we will have greater confidence in – indeed, we will revel in – our way of life.

Because if you walk our streets, learn in our schools, benefit from our society, you sign up to our values: freedom; tolerance; responsibility; loyalty.

These are the big challenges of our age, some of the biggest our nation has ever faced. And this year is a test of our mettle.

Whether we put up with poverty – or put an end to it, ignore the glass ceiling – or smash it, abandon the tenant – or help make them a homeowner, appease the extremist – or take apart their ideology, piece by piece.

We’ll get Britain a better deal in Europe, give families the peace of mind they crave and we’ll make our country even more secure.

That’s what this year – this turnaround decade – is all about.

So let me wish everyone the very best and a very happy new year.