David Cameron – 2006 Hindu Forum Speech

Below is the text of the speech made by David Cameron, the then Leader of the Opposition, at Watford Temple on 17 October 2006.

Namaste.

It’s great to be here, especially as we approach Diwali.

Every year, Hindus in Britain and throughout the world celebrate the triumph of good over evil.

The festival of light sends a message of hope and optimism that all of us, of whatever faith, can embrace enthusiastically.

Hindus – making Britain better

Much of what I have to say to you this evening is about the kind of Britain I want to see for everyone.

But first, I’d like to say something about the Hindu community.

It’s no surprise that you have become such a successful part of British society.

Many of the values that Hindus brought with them when they arrived here are those traditionally associated with Britain: tolerance, honesty, enterprise, and respect for the law.

Hindus make up 1 per cent of the population of England and Wales but only 0.025 per cent of the prison population.

You live independently of the Government but never shirk from contributing to society.

Hindus have the lowest level of unemployment of any minority community.

And you help to strengthen those things that have been in decline here, such as commitment to the family.

Hindus are more likely to stay married than people from any other community in Britain.

The Hindu community isn’t simply a part of this country in a strictly demographic sense.

It’s much more important than that.

You’re a vital element of the new Britain that we’re building together.

Every community needs role models.

I want to see more Hindus advance to the highest levels in the Army, the Judiciary and the Civil Service.

I also want to see more Hindu MPs.

People like Shailesh Vara.

Shailesh’s parents arrived in Britain from Uganda with nothing.

Yet, one generation later, he’s in Parliament, he’s in my party – and I’m proud of that.

What everyone wants

Shailesh is a role model for Hindus but he’s in Parliament to represent people of every faith and of none.

It always amuses me when politicians ask each other, ‘What do the Hindus want?’

Or ‘What do the Muslims want?’, ‘What do the Jews want?’

It’s a bit ridiculous really.

By and large, they want the same as everyone else!

Streets that are safe.

Schools that provide a good education.

Hospitals that offer excellent healthcare.

The opportunity to earn enough to look after the family.

In other words, a good quality of life.

That’s what people care most about.

Part of the problem I had when I took over the Conservative Party was that too many of our members had stopped thinking about these things.

Instead of talking about the issues that most people care about, we got bogged down in backward looking disputes.

While parents worried about childcare, getting the kids to school, balancing work and family life – we were banging on and on about subjects like Europe.

I’m not here to make a party political speech but let me say this.

In the past ten months I’ve moved my party back to the centre ground of British politics.

People deserve a real choice of government.

I will make sure that there is always a sensible and moderate alternative to vote for.

Social Responsibility

A strong government needs strong foundations.

That’s not just about individual policies.

It is about a vision of the Britain we all want to see.

A Britain where we do not just ask what government can do.

We ask what people can do, what society can do.

A Britain where we stop thinking you can pass laws to make people good.

And start realising that we are all in this together.

It’s called social responsibility.

Take fighting crime.

It is not just a state responsibility.

It is a social responsibility.

Let’s not pretend that all we need is tough talk and tough laws to bring safety to our streets.

Of course the state must play its part.

The police, the courts, the prison system.

But that is not the end of the story.

It is just the start.

We need parents to bring up their children with the right values.

We need schools to be places of discipline and order.

We need to stand up for civilised values in public places.

We need to design crime out of the housing estates of the future.

We’ve got to stop selling alcohol to children.

But more than this, we need people, families, communities, businesses to step up to the plate and understand that it’s not just about stopping the bad things…

…it’s about actively doing the good things.

Not waiting for the state to do it all, but taking responsibility, making a difference, saying loudly and proudly: this is my country, this is my community: I will play my part.

We need a new spirit of social responsibility in this land.

Social Cohesion

One of the problems we face in building a better society is that there are always forces that seek to divide us.

The tendency to retreat into a ghetto is often as much psychological as physical.

In Britain today we have communities where people from different ethnic origins never meet, never talk, never go into each others’ homes.

After the riots in our northern towns in 2001, the government commissioned a report into why there had been such a massive breakdown in law and order.

In looking into the underlying causes of the violence and destruction the author, Ted Cantle, discovered just how divided our society has become.

Some, although not all, of the fault lies with the policies of successive governments.

We have been encouraged to concentrate on what divides us, what makes us different.

Grants have been doled out not on the basis of need but on the basis of race and religion.

Those who kept quiet and got on with life got very little while those who made the most noise have often been give the most.

We saw in the more recent riots in Handsworth in Birmingham where this kind of state-sanctioned division can lead.

It’s time to discard the failed policies of the past.

We need to bring people together – and bring our society together.

This involves taking concrete steps.

The act of granting citizenship.

Teaching new arrivals how to speak English.

Ensuring that people – particularly young people – mix in school and beyond the school gate through school exchange programmes.

So that they learn for themselves this truth:

All of us – rich and poor, black and white, Hindu, Muslim, Jew and Christian – have got far more that unites us than divides us.

We need to challenge organisations to develop ideas to achieve this.

I’d like to go further.

Last year, I proposed a school leaver programme to prepare teenagers for their responsibilities as adult citizens…

…that gives them the opportunity to meet people from different backgrounds…

…and to learn about the realities of life in different communities.

I’m passionate about this.

I’m pleased that we’ve now establish a charity called the Young Adult Trust, led by the youth sector, to do exactly that.

We’re starting to run pilot programmes next week.

It’s very exciting.

The more that people come together – as they already do at university, for example – the more they will discover how much they have in common.

India

This is a worldwide issue.

Recently, I was in India.

I was hugely impressed by what I saw.

By the dynamism of the Indian economy.

By the vibrancy of Indian democracy.

And by the clear sense that here is an emerging superpower.

I made a speech in Mumbai in which I made it clear that I want to see a new special relationship for the 21st century between Britain and India.

We have so much in common.

Not simply because of our shared heritage, values and the English language.

But also because of the challenges we face together.

Key issues such as the impact of globalisation and the threat of terrorism.

And, of course, the need to create and maintain successful, pluralist, multi-faith democracies.

Like any large and diverse country, India has its problems.

But there is a strong sense that everyone – Hindu, Muslim, Sikh, Buddhist and Christian – is an Indian.

Equally, all of here in this country need a shared sense of being British.

I’m not pretending we can simply wave a magic wand.

The issues of social cohesion are incredibly complicated.

They will need sensitive handling.

But I know one thing.

I don’t want to live in a society that’s divided into mutually suspicious blocs based on ethnicity or religion.

I want to live in a society united by shared humanity and a common sense of Britishness.

In conclusion let me say this.

Big challenges lie ahead if we are to build a better country.

I have no doubt that Hindus will play a full part in meeting those challenges.

Hindus in every walk of life.

Not just in the fields of business and enterprise where this community have made an amazing contribution out of all proportion to its size.

But also in the public sector where so many Hindus serve as doctors, as chemists, as civil servants.

We’re all in this together.

Building a better society for our children and grandchildren.

Whoever you are, whatever you do.

As we prepare for Diwali.

Let’s go forward as a happy and united people, into the light.

David Cameron – 2006 Speech on Disabled People

Below is the text of the speech made by David Cameron, the then Leader of the Opposition, at Capability Scotland on 16 October 2016.

First let me thank Capability Scotland for inviting me to speak here today.

The work you do – representing disabled people, advocating for them, providing care – is a great example of the idea that the modern Conservative Party stands for.

It is the big idea of the 21st century: social responsibility.

Social responsibility means understanding that the answers to the challenges we face do not lie in the hands of the state alone.

We must always ask not just what government can do, but what society can do – individuals, families, businesses, social enterprises and community organisations.

The borders of responsibility between state and society can never be neatly defined or set in stone.

For every issue, and every challenge, we must constantly ask ourselves whether we have got the balance right.

It is a fine judgement.

But we bring to this judgement a very different attitude to the one that the Government brings.

Where Labour instinctively reach for the regulatory solution, and trust first and foremost in state action…

…we instinctively reach for the human solution, and trust first and foremost in people and what they can do.

That is what social responsibility means, and over the next few weeks I want to explain its relevance to some of the biggest social challenges our country faces: an ageing population; giving hope and inspiration to young people, and the needs of carers.

DISABILITY

Today, I want to talk about our social responsibility to disabled people.

Earlier this year I announced a process of consultation with disabled people and disability organisations.

Jeremy Hunt, our shadow disability minister, has heard evidence from over 100 organisations.

That work goes on.

And today we are launching what I hope will become one of the main centres of discussion, advice and policy-making for disabled people.

It’s a website: www.thedisabilitychallenge.com.

I am so pleased that Bert Massie, the chair of the Disability Rights Commission, has said that we have “done a marvellous thing” in giving disabled people “a say in what a future Conservative Government would do.”

Well, this website is the way to have that say.

We want to hear from you about the issues that affect your lives – and how change can come about.

BBC AND PARKING

Because the great thing is that change really can come from the bottom-up.

Politicians can help, of course, providing leadership to a campaign and giving it greater profile.

But in the end, the most powerful force for change is society itself.

Let me give you two examples where Jeremy Hunt has shown the power of social pressure, not the law.

Working with the Royal National Institute for the Deaf, Jeremy has persuaded the BBC to double the amount of subtitling on BBC Parliament.

This means that people with limited hearing will be able to watch all major events in the House of Commons.

That is real change for the better.

And here’s another one.

Because of the unique parking pressures in central London, the four inner London boroughs are exempt from the Europe-wide Blue Badge parking scheme.

They operate their own parking arrangements for disabled drivers – which leads to real confusion.

Jeremy has brokered an arrangement which we can announce today.

For the first time, the four boroughs will work together to operate a harmonised disabled parking scheme and increase disabled parking.

SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY AND DISABILITY

In the field of disability, the role of Government is to ensure that the benefits system helps, rather than hinders, disabled people looking for work.

Government is also there to fund and, where necessary, to provide the essential services that disabled people need.

But disabled people need more than Government benefits and Government services.

We need corporate responsibility too: businesses putting in the extra effort, even the extra investment…

…to ensure that they value and make proper use of the talents and abilities of disabled people.

We need civic responsibility: community groups and local government making sure that disabled people have the fullest access to local services and facilities…

…and independent organisations being trusted to provide services to disabled people.

And finally, we need personal responsibility.

This means each of us, as individuals.

Disabled people need to take the responsibility of looking for work if they can, of taking their place in society.

And non-disabled people need to combat their own prejudice and the prejudice of others – to recognise the equal rights of all people to respect and dignity.

THE SEVERELY DISABLED

That principle – the equal right of each of us to respect and dignity – must be the starting point of this discussion.

Every person – no matter their mental or physical condition – is of equal worth.

This is a moral absolute.

Humanity consists not in capability.

We do not derive our worth from our strength – physical or mental.

Our worth is innate in us.

Our humanity is intrinsic.

Indeed that word – humanity – is synonymous with the principle of compassion.

That is why the moral absolute of human equality is most tested, most necessary, when it comes to the most severely disabled people in our society.

As I shall explain, we must make every effort to ensure that disabled people can participate in the life of society – in the community, in work, in public life.

But the fact is, there is a small minority of people who will never be able to participate fully.

In our drive to include disabled people in normal life, we must not neglect those who will never live a normal life.

The other day I met a family who campaign for children on permanent ventilation.

The most important thing for those children is not access to every part of community life.

It is, quite simply, care: care for themselves and care for their families.

These are the most vulnerable people in our society – and they should therefore be the most cared-for, the most well-treated… quite simply the most important people in our society.

DISABILITY DISCRIMINATION ACT

But of course the vast majority of disabled people are fully able and willing to participate in work, in community life and public life.

It was my party which passed the Disability Discrimination Act in 1995, giving disabled people, for the first time, basic civil rights against discrimination.

It became illegal to refuse someone work, or a service, or an entitlement because of their disability.

I am proud of that.

But we have to go further.

Because equality means more than civil rights.

Fair treatment cannot come through law alone.

The first Race Relations Act was in 1965.

The first Sex Discrimination Act was in 1975.

Yet it took years for racism and sexism to start to disappear from public life – and as we know, they still haven’t disappeared altogether.

We don’t want to have to wait that long for disabled people.

Discrimination occurs as much in our culture as in our law – in society, as much as in the state.

That’s why we need to do more.

Our guiding principle should be to ensure that wherever possible, disabled people can participate in every aspect of life, and make their contribution to society.

SERVICES

I want to talk about work in a minute.

But there is more to life than work.

And even work depends on a host of other factors: childcare, housing, transport.

These things matter to all of us, but they matter even more for disabled people.

When the Conservative Party held a seminar on transport issues this summer, a disabled lady was late.

When she arrived, she explained that she’d sat on a train at Euston station for 35 minutes because no-one came to help her.

In the rush of modern life, it is easy for disabled people to get left behind.

The same goes for housing: in our rush to build, and to cram more people into smaller spaces, we can forget the needs of those who need special facilities at home.

According to the Government, nearly a quarter of disabled people who need adapted accommodation don’t have it.

That’s hardly surprising.

The Government’s Code for Sustainable Housing describes accessibility for disabled people as “an optional extra”.

As a survey for the Joseph Rowntree Foundation found, there is generally no single agency or department at the local level with responsibility for meeting the housing needs of disabled people.

Other services can neglect the needs of disabled people too.

Services like home help and occupational therapy.

Brilliant people do this work – but why is it so difficult to arrange a visit from them?

Why do they so often say they’ll come sometime between nine and five – meaning you have to stay in all day waiting for them?

How could someone hold down a job faced with that sort of inflexibility?

If supermarkets can give you an hour slot for when they deliver a box of groceries, why can’t social services manage it too?

A point I hear again and again is that people find it easier dealing with their disability than dealing with the agencies that are supposed to help them with it.

It’s often not the agencies’ fault.

Social services are often smothered in red tape.

In England, there’s the Commission for Social Care Inspection…

…Delivery and Improvement Standards…

…Performance Assessment Frameworks (of which there are 26)…

…Best Value Performance Indicators…

…they all take up time, require information, impose instructions.

Here in Scotland, social services are hampered by government in many ways.

A consultation by the Scottish Executive earlier this year found that social services are:

“overwhelmed by bureaucracy… often gathering information for local and national use which is of little value”.

It’s little wonder that there is such a shortage of social workers and care workers in many parts of Scotland.

WORK

Most disabled people don’t want to just be receivers of public services.

They want to be contributors too.

They want to work.

And the basic principle here must be that disability is not a disqualification.

The vast majority of disabled people are able, and willing, to work – whether full time or part time, paid or voluntary.

And yet 50 per cent of disabled people of working age are not in work.

The Government likes to boast that it has achieved near full employment.

And yet the fact is that millions of people of working age are not working – but they’re not categorised as unemployed either.

In order to help Government statistics, they’re simply written off.

There are around five million people who could work, who aren’t working.

Britain has the highest proportion of young men out of work in the developed world.

And according to the most recent Labour Force Survey, 40 per cent of all people of working age who are not working, are disabled.

MIGRANT WORKERS

So that’s one fact: five million people, many of them disabled, often able to work but who are not working.

And here is another fact, corresponding to the first one.

As we write off our fellow citizens from participating in the workforce, other countries’ citizens come to take their place.

The gaps in the labour market are, very naturally, being filled by migrant workers.

That, in itself, is a good thing not a bad thing.

We should not try to unlock the potential of our own citizens by locking out the citizens of other countries.

When willing, able and energetic people come to this country to work, they don’t crowd out other people from the labour market.

As the Fresh Talent initiative by the Scottish Executive recognises, skilled foreign workers expand our economy and make us more competitive.

Ultimately they create more employment.

But it is outrageous for Gordon Brown to claim that we nearly have full employment in this country.

Real unemployment in Britain is around five million – five million people left on the scrap-heap while British firms deal with the resulting labour shortage by employing migrant workers.

That is morally wrong and economically stupid and it has to stop.

We have a social responsibility to help disabled people into the workforce.

When millions of our fellow citizens are locked out of the workforce, we all lose.

They lose the quality of life – the wealth and fulfilment that comes from work.

Taxpayers lose because of the benefits that have to be paid to the unemployed.

And the economy loses because huge productive opportunities are wasted.

So our response to the numbers of disabled people who are not working is straightforward.

For the sake of the people who are locked into welfare…

…for the sake of taxpayers…

…and for the sake of our economy…

…we have to bring them back into the mainstream.

Into work.

WHY THEY DON’T WORK

So let us start by asking the obvious question: why is it that only 50 per cent of all disabled people of working age actually work?

Capability Scotland’s recent survey gives the answer.

Around half your respondents blamed discrimination by employers, who don’t want to hire disabled people.

And around half blamed the benefits system – trapping people in unemployment, because they don’t want to risk their benefits by getting a job.

I want to address these two issues in turn.

CORPORATE RESPONSIBILITY

According to the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, nearly 40 per cent of employers are unwilling to consider job applications from disabled people.

And as the Disability Rights Commission reports today, the figure is even higher for people with a history of mental illness.

That is disgraceful.

And it’s unnecessary.

The fact is, most employers do the right thing when an existing employee becomes sick or disabled.

They make it work, both for the company and for the employee.

Yet too many businesses will not make this effort when it comes to recruiting new workers.

Some do, of course.

Companies like the Royal Mail have been far-sighted in their approach to the recruitment of disabled people.

This is the attitude we must expect from all employers.

It is simply a question of corporate responsibility – a key part of our wider social responsibility to disabled people.

CONSERVATIVE PARTY

That applies, of course, to political parties.

I am delighted that Jon Sparks, the chief executive of Scope, is here with us today.

He and I will sign an agreement this morning, between Scope and the Conservative Party…

…committing us to an employment policy which welcomes applications from disabled people.

Scope will conduct an audit of Conservative Campaign Head Quarters, and report back to us on how we can improve the way we work:

…access to our building, our literature, our websites.

They will also advise us on candidate selection.

I am sure they will find we are not perfect.

But I am determined that the Conservative Party becomes properly representative of the country we aspire to govern – and that includes more disabled candidates and more disabled MPs.

GOVERNMENT

Of course, there is one organisation which should be leading the way in corporate responsibility.

The largest employer in the country is the Government itself.

19% of the working age population is disabled – yet less than 5% of civil servants are disabled people.

At the Department of Work and Pensions – the department responsible for helping disabled people into work – only 7% of staff are disabled.

The DWP has actually lost discrimination tribunals brought against it by disabled staff.

All that needs to change.

We’re calling for an annual audit, across the public sector, of practice towards the employment of disabled people.

And if we win the next election, we will make the employment of disabled people a priority for recruitment policy throughout Whitehall and the public sector.

If we’re going to change attitudes in our country, government needs to set an example.

That is what social responsibility means.

BENEFITS: COMPLEXITY

So I want to see employers welcome disabled people.

The other side of our task, however, is to make disabled people welcome work.

As I’ve said, almost all do – in principle.

Almost all have something to contribute.

But the fact is that it’s often very difficult for a disabled person to make the transition into work.

The benefits system often hinders, rather than helps.

Most of all, because of its complexity.

The Disability Living Allowance.

Incapacity Benefit.

The Severe Disability Premium.

The Access to Work Fund.

The Individual Learning Fund.

The Wheelchair Service.

Funding from the local council for housing adaptations.

Funding from Social Services.

Funding from the LEA for Special Education Needs.

It goes on.

And on.

The Disability Living Allowance has a form that is forty pages long.

Half the appeals against DLA awards are upheld – which shows how many mistakes are made.

And you can tell how complicated the system is by this statistic:

26% of spending on families with severely disabled children goes on assessment and commissioning, not on care itself.

What a waste of money and of time.

Here’s another fact.

If you receive direct payments, you have to open a separate bank account for them.

The idea of direct payments is that people can be trusted to buy their own care.

Why do you need a separate bank account?

Direct payments are the right idea.

The problem is you can only get them if you only receive help from social services.

If you’re also getting help from the NHS, you can’t get your social care through direct payments.

I think that’s wrong.

In fact the idea that healthcare and social care should be kept in separate boxes is wrong.

It’s yet another confusion in a system which urgently needs to be simplified.

I’ve heard some real horror stories.

The family which had to wait three years to start getting Direct Payments when their disabled son turned 16 – including the threat of court.

The fact is, it is so difficult to navigate all this that when you’ve got the package you’re entitled to, you don’t want to change your circumstances again and risk it all.

Indeed, the system is so confusing that many people literally don’t understand where the money they receive comes from.

According to the Child Poverty Action Group, some families treat benefit payments as a windfall.

Because the system seems so arbitrary, because they cannot rely on a steady income from the benefits office, they simply spend it as it comes in.

BENEFITS: DISINCENTIVE TO WORK

And worst of all, people know that if they make the wrong move, their benefits can be withdrawn.

When I say “wrong move”, it’s actually often the right move.

People who suffer from a fluctuating condition – say Multiple Sclerosis or Bipolar Disorder – will often be able to work when they enjoy good health.

The problem is that if they suffer a relapse of the condition and have to give up work, they often have to start the whole benefits assessment process again.

So it’s no surprise that many people with fluctuating conditions think it is safer not to risk their vital benefit package by looking for work.

The system penalises responsibility in a variety of ways.

For example, surely it is a good thing if disabled people undertake part-time work, community work, education or training.

And yet all these things can trigger a new Personal Capacities Assessment, which can lead to a loss of “incapacity status” and therefore a loss of benefits.

Yet for many unemployed people these things are often crucial steps back to work.

You automatically lose your Incapacity Benefit if you work more than 16 hours a week or earn more than £80.

Again, this directly penalises part-time work, and encourages people to stay inactive.

BENEFITS: STATE AGENCIES

The same goes for the way contracts for Pathways to Work are awarded.

Contractors are rewarded for placing people in full-time employment – not for finding them part-time or voluntary work.

This acts as a disincentive to help the people in entrenched unemployment, the hard-to-reach groups with more severe disabilities who need help the most.

As Capability Scotland have put it, “Pathways to Work might not be the most appropriate vehicle for supporting people furthest from the labour market back into work.”

As for the New Deal for Disabled People, it doesn’t provide support before placing the client in work.

As a result, take-up is low and drop-out rates are high.

As Capability Scotland put it, “our experience suggests that NDDP might not be the most appropriate activity for people with complex support needs.”

Both the New Deal and Pathways to Work often seem to pick the easy targets.

The hardest cases have got more entrenched.

This is not the fault of the people who work in these agencies.

It is a structural problem.

When central government takes the responsibility for getting people into work, things tend to get bureaucratic and incentives get skewed.

SIMPLIFICATION

So there are the problems in the benefits system.

It is too complex.

It does not incentivise work sufficiently.

And it relies too much on large government agencies.

I believe we can tackle each of these problems.

Our policy review is examining the option of a radical simplification of the benefits package for disabled people.

I welcome the principle of Individual Budgets.

But I’d like to go much further.

Instead of the half-dozen different benefits a disabled person can receive – each with its different conditions and its own application form…

…we should be moving towards a single assessment process, and perhaps even a single benefit.

If it was not conditional on whether you work or not – it would not act as a disincentive to finding a job.

It would be simple, easy to administer and easy to understand.

WORK INCENTIVE

We also need to incentivise work directly.

And so Incapacity Benefit – the money that unemployed disabled people receive – also needs reform.

The committee stage of the Welfare Reform Bill starts tomorrow.

Jeremy Hunt will be leading our campaign to amend the Bill in favour of disabled people.

The Government has said it wants more severely disabled people to be able to volunteer for the Pathways programme.

If this is to be meaningful, we need to look at whether part-time work, voluntary work or community work could be considered valid outcomes for the programme.

For many people these can be vital stepping stones towards full time employment…

…but for others they may be the only realistic destination.

We also need to ensure that, if you have a prescribed medical condition that means you can manage frequent limited periods of work…

…you automatically go back to the same benefit entitlement every time you need to stop working.

And long-term, we need to think about how to overcome the abrupt cut-off for Incapacity Benefit at 16 hours or £80 a week….

…and the even lower earnings disregard for those on Income Support.

At every stage the benefit system needs to help, support and encourage people to take the next steps back into work.

That is the only way we will achieve the goal of independent living.

SOCIAL ENTERPRISE

Finally, we need to put more trust in social enterprises and voluntary bodies.

As Capability Scotland has argued, Pathways to Work and the New Deal for Disabled People have not been effective with the people who most need help in getting into work.

Indeed I suspect that, like the rest of the New Deal, the successes have largely been with those people who would have found work anyway.

I do not believe that large state agencies, no matter how well-meaning, are the right vehicles for helping badly disadvantaged people into work.

Organisations like Forth Sector here in Edinburgh…

…or Unity Enterprise throughout Central Scotland…

…or the Shaw Trust across the UK…

…do great work getting disabled and mentally ill people into work.

I want to see far more use of social enterprises like these.

And not just for employment.

In every field of life, charities large and small are finding better ways of working.

Capability Scotland has two schools for disabled children – I congratulate you on their success.

I also want to pay tribute to a much smaller project – called Abbey Soft Play in Kelso.

When Diane Henderson’s daughter was diagnosed with cerebral palsy, she found there was nowhere safe for her to play in the town.

So Diane set up a social enterprise.

She converted an old disused toilet block into a soft play area for all the children of the town.

Now there are 250 members, about a third of them with special needs.

That’s a great example of how providing services for disabled people can help everyone.

There is a charity called Hurdles, in Bury in Lancashire, which helps disabled children…

“to be able to do what they wish, with whom they choose, at the same time as everyone else.”

That’s a brilliant description of what our ambition for disabled people should be.

And as Hurdles explained in a submission to our Social Justice Policy Group, organisations like theirs are generally better informed about what works than officials are.

They also told us, “often a small local organisation like Hurdles could deliver services at a fraction of the cost” that bigger agencies spend.

I want to see far more use of social enterprises like that – providing a gateway to government services, providing services directly themselves…

…and most of all, helping in all the messy ad hoc ways that human beings need help.

If we are to help the majority of disabled people achieve the goal of independent living…

…and if we are to help the minority that will never live independent lives…

…then we have to change the way we work.

All of us.

We as politicians have our job to do: Jeremy Hunt begins today on the detail of the Welfare Reform Bill.

But we as individuals, as employers, as citizens, have our roles too.

Personal responsibility.

Corporate responsibility.

Civic responsibility.

In a phrase: social responsibility.

That is the way to realise the moral absolute, the equal dignity of every person.

David Cameron – 2006 Speech on Northern Ireland

Below is the text of the speech made by David Cameron, the then Leader of the Opposition, at the Institute of Directors in Northern Ireland on 26 October 2006.

It’s a great pleasure for me to return to Belfast as the guest speaker at your annual lunch.

As I said in Scotland recently, every part of the United Kingdom is precious to me and the Party I lead.

That applies equally, of course, to Northern Ireland.

I’ll deal with the prospects for political progress briefly.

But today I want to talk mainly about the importance of economic progress.

Part of that involves economic liberalisation and achieving competitiveness in the global marketplace.

And I’ll explain how I believe we can do that.

By promoting deregulation

By introducing tax reform.

And, particularly in the context of Northern Ireland, by increasing the size of the private sector as a percentage of the economy as a whole.

But I’m going to argue that if economic progress is to bring social stability, economic liberalism – low taxes, deregulation, stable monetary policy – is not enough on its own. We need to add to it, with ideas for economic empowerment.

We must recognise that the rising tide of the open economy does not always lift all boats and that, for some people, the bottom rungs of the ladder to prosperity are broken and need to be fixed.

That means investment in training, skills, education and recognising the human and personal development that people need to help them out of poverty.

This, in turn, needs a new approach to politics. Government alone cannot empower people or give them the tools for success.

We need social responsibility. A new role for the voluntary sector, for social enterprise and, yes, for business.

POLITICAL PROGRESS

But first, the political situation.

Following St Andrews and as we approach the first deadline in the Governments’ timetable, it’s worth telling you my position.

My Party supports devolution.

We believe that government is better when it is closer to people and when decisions are taken locally.

I’m in no doubt that a fully functioning Assembly will provide much greater degree of accountability for local decisions than can ever be the case under direct rule.

Decisions about domestic rates or academic selection should be made here, not in Whitehall or a Westminster Committee Room.

St Andrews was clearly a significant step forward towards the restoration of devolution.

I wish Tony Blair well and hope that this initiative succeeds.

But power-sharing will only work if every political party and every Minister in the Executive sticks to the same, basic democratic rules and gives full support to the police, the courts and the rule of law.

So the reality is that Sinn Fein must deliver on policing.

No more is being asked of them than that they play by the same democratic rules that are accepted by every other political party in the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland.

Backing the police means more than just joining the Policing Board.

It means reporting crime and co-operating with the police at all levels.

It means encouraging people from your community to join the police.

And it means passing on evidence of crime to the police – such as in the case of Robert McCartney.

Sinn Fein must be clear about these things. But I hope Unionists will be equally clear – about their response.

If Sinn Fein makes these moves – as St Andrews requires them to do – then, difficult as it undoubtedly will be for some, I believe that unionists would be absolutely right in re-establishing a power-sharing, devolved government.

That means locally elected and accountable ministers from both main traditions working together for the good of Northern Ireland.

It is a big step for Dr Paisley to sit down with Mr Adams. But in time it has to happen if devolution and power-sharing are to take place and work.

And success also means a commitment to co-operation on matters of shared interest with the Republic of Ireland and throughout these islands as a whole.

And it means presenting to the world a new, outward looking and optimistic face of Northern Ireland.

Such a political settlement would set the seal on the transformation that’s taken place in Northern Ireland over the past fifteen years.

My Party wants to make it happen – and while we are the Opposition, we are the loyal Opposition – and we will never play politics with the future of Northern Ireland.

ECONOMIC PROGRESS

Let me turn to the economy.

Enormous progress has already been made – a great deal of it down to you in the business community.

Everyone knows that, for Northern Ireland, economic success has been one of the dividends of political change.

What is less clearly understood is that economic success has, in turn, driven forward that political change.

Unemployment is lower than in most other regions of the country.

One only has to look at the city centre here in Belfast to see the amount of new investment that’s coming in – here, and also in towns and cities across Northern Ireland.

House prices are rising faster than virtually anywhere else in the United Kingdom.

And of course without the threat from terrorism people are able to go about their daily business in a way that was unthinkable just over a decade ago.

I accept that there are big problems that need tackling.

The transport infrastructure needs modernising. Investment is required to upgrade water and sewage services.

But on the whole there is reason for optimism about the progress that Northern Ireland has made.

ECONOMIC LIBERALISATION – Competitiveness in the global marketplace

In order to sustain progress, we need to recognise the harsh realities of the competitive global economy. Business can locate anywhere. So government needs to get real about competitiveness.

We need a Government that asks some straight forward questions.

Are we making it easier, or harder, to set up a business?

Are we making it easier, or harder, to employ people? Is the overall burden of tax, public spending and borrowing going up or down?

Politicians need to understand the realities of life for the entrepreneur and wealth creator.

Does it take an employer more time, or less time, to fill in their tax return?

Is an employer spending more time, or less time, dealing with red tape?

Are the costs of complying with legislation and regulation going up, or down?

These are the real tests of an open economy. Those are the questions my government would ask. At the moment Labour cannot give positive answers to those questions.

Unfortunately, under the current Government the United Kingdom has slipped from fourth to tenth in the world economic competitiveness league.

With regulation up, tax up, interference up, the foot of government is pressing down on the windpipe of British business. We’ve got to take that foot off.

DEREGULATION

One way to do that is to make the economy competitive is to reduce the burdens that business faces.

The CBI estimates that £50 billion of new regulations have been introduced since 1997.

We need to tackle regulation at source. We need to look at the vast expansion of litigation under no win / no fee. We need to stop the gold plating of directives. And we need to go further, not having dozens of goals from an EU negotiation – but just one: to get out of the Social Chapter.

TAX REFORM

Let me say something about tax.

Under the current Chancellor, business has been, quite simply, over-taxed. We used to have some of the lowest rates of business tax; now we have some of the highest.

In the modern world, firms are competing not just within Northern Ireland…

Or in an island of Ireland or UK context…

But in a global market where the challenge from countries like China and India grows more formidable by the day.

And in the modern world, it’s the lower-tax economies that will be the most competitive.

You know better than me that we only have to look south, to the Republic of Ireland, to see the truth of that.

Northern Ireland shares a land border with a country that currently enjoys a much lower rate of corporation tax than we do in the United Kingdom.

People here are aware of this – and are calling for taxation measures to help.

There’s widespread support for the idea that Northern Ireland should have a separate rate of corporation tax to the rest of the UK.

And there’s the Northern Ireland Manufacturing Group’s campaign on industrial de-rating.

Across the country, there are lots of calls for tax cuts.

I hear them. I understand them.

Last week, the Conservative Party’s Tax Commission published its report.

The members of that Commission, led by Michael Forsyth, are men and women with a wealth of experience of industry, trade, finance and social policy.

They are also independent minded.

They have done what I asked and presented my Party with a menu of options for tax reform that deserve serious consideration.

Tax breaks specific to Northern Ireland would have to be thought through in the context of overall Exchequer support for this part of the UK and the precedent that might be set for other parts of the United Kingdom.

I will look seriously and with an open mind at any well-argued, carefully modelled case that business here puts forward.

But we are clear about the framework of our tax policy.

Sound money means that we shall always put stability ahead of tax cuts.

So we will not be promising up-front, unfunded tax reductions at the next election.

But we will share the proceeds of growth, so over time we will be able to reduce taxes.

We will also rebalance our tax system.

Green taxes on pollution will rise to pay for reductions in family taxes.

The Tax Reform Commission’s report sets out some options for doing that.

But tax reform isn’t just about reducing or rebalancing taxes.

It’s also about making tax much more simple and transparent.

Tax law in the UK has developed in a piecemeal fashion over a long period of time without any systematic or overall review.

Tolley’s Tax Handbook of the British Tax Code was 4,555 pages in 1997.

Nine years later it has doubled to over 9,800 pages.

That’s 10 times longer than Tolstoy’s War and Peace. And I’ll tell you something else…it’s much less of a good read.

A survey of British businesses carried out for the Tax Reform Commission found that more than three quarters of businesses thought the tax system had become more complex in the last five years.

And the number saying the tax system had become less complex?

Two per cent. They must be either incredibly clever or incredibly stupid.

Rising complexity is at the root of the increasingly antagonistic relationship between government and business over tax avoidance.

A simpler tax system would stop the endless game of cat and mouse.

Complex taxes are harming our competitiveness and driving away investment.

We believe that when it comes to business tax, by removing exemptions and broadening the base on which tax is charged, we could simplify the system and reduce headline rates.

That will be our goal.

GROWING THE PRIVATE SECTOR

Within Northern Ireland, the private sector is performing well.

Northern Irish companies are doing fantastic business the world over – Mivan, Lagan, Norbrook and FG Wilson to name a few.

But I agree with those who say that the Northern Ireland economy needs re-balancing.

Currently around two-thirds of it is dependent, directly or indirectly, on the public sector.

That compares with about one third in the south-east of England.

It makes the local economy particularly susceptible to a slowdown in the current growth in public expenditure.

Only last month the First Trust Bank’s quarterly survey of the Northern Ireland economy concluded that ‘overall economic growth is likely to slacken in 2007’ and warned:

‘Businesses that are dependent upon the state sector should recognise that public expenditure growth in the years ahead will be slower than in the past’.

That is not healthy.

So there is a widespread consensus – that includes the Government – on the need to reduce the role of the state and the public sector, and to boost the private sector in delivering growth and prosperity.

My aim is clear – to make the United Kingdom the best place to set up and do business.

And, within the UK, to ensure that Northern Ireland is a full participant in this dynamic enterprise culture.

ECONOMIC EMPOWERMENT

Of course, economic prosperity benefits everyone but we should be honest in acknowledging that some people are not in a position to take advantage of it.

That is why any policy of economic liberalisation must be accompanied by economic empowerment for those left behind.

There is growing prosperity here, but also some of the most disadvantaged parts of the United Kingdom, suffering all the problems associated with social exclusion.

I saw some of these at first hand when I visited the Shankill area last December.

A place where very few people have even a single GCSE… where the opportunities for getting on and getting up are incredibly limited.

While grammar schools in Northern Ireland produce the best exam results in the United Kingdom, there are still far too many children leaving school with few, or no, qualifications.

Of course I oppose the Government’s attempts to change the status of schools without the approval of people locally. But we must also do more to encourage those in the most disadvantaged areas to see education as an opportunity, not an irrelevance.

Reading is crucial, too.

If you can’t read, it’s hard to play anything more than a walk on part in the economy.

In Northern Ireland, just under a quarter of 11 year olds failed to achieve level 4 or better at Key Stage 2 English.

Put simply, that means they don’t have command of the basics.

Getting children to read competently when they leave primary school is the greatest single contribution we could make to transforming their opportunities in later life.

Today, there are almost 20,000 young people in Northern Ireland who are not in work or in full time education.

We can’t afford to write them off or leave it to the paramilitaries to give them some sense of purpose in their lives.

So economic empowerment means fixing the broken rungs at the bottom of the ladder from poverty to wealth.

There are 113,000 people in Northern Ireland on incapacity benefits, many of whom have the ability and the will to work – at least part-time – if the system only supported and encouraged them to do so.

Human capital is the most important resource of the open economy.

I see it as a key task of modern government to find ways of helping excluded groups back into the mainstream of our society.

And more often than not it will not be the Government that has the answers – it will be social enterprises, voluntary groups, community organisations and, yes, business that has the answers.

So yes we need to roll back the state in terms of rebalancing the economy, between the state sector and the private sector.

But we also need to roll forward society in terms of all recognising our responsibility to help the disadvantaged and build a strong society.

That is what I mean by social responsibility – recognising that government alone cannot tackle these problems.

We should be looking at a new deal with the voluntary sector – longer term contracts and funding to deal with the toughest challenges.

We should look at new ways to help those stuck in deprivation – perhaps easing the rules that say you lose benefit if you do more than 16 hours voluntary work. For many that is the path back to work – so why block it?

And just as Enterprise Zones helped in the 1980s with a broken economy, why not create Social Action Zones, cutting burdens from business and charities that help crack deprivation in some of our poorest neighbourhoods.

When I was growing up, when I first began working in politics, Northern Ireland only ever seemed to be associated with bad news.

Today, Northern Ireland is changing – and for the better.

There’s still some distance to travel and some issues to be resolved.

But hopefully we’re getting there.

I want to see Northern Ireland as a peaceful, stable and prosperous part of the country.

I want to see a shared future for people of all traditions, based on reconciliation, democracy and the rule of law.

And I look forward to working with you over the coming years to help make that a reality.

I want politics in Northern Ireland to be about the real things – schools, hospitals, tax, not about timetables, deadlines and institutional arrangements.

And I want the Conservative Party to be a part of that new politics.

We’re moving in a new direction.

Leading the debate. Pulling ahead of a tired Government. Developing policies for the future.

In doing so, one thing is certain.

My Party’s commitment to Northern Ireland, and to all its people, will be whole hearted and unshakeable.

David Cameron – 2006 Speech at Equal Opportunities Commission Event

Below is the text of the speech made by David Cameron, the then Leader of the Opposition, on 13 March 2006.

The Conservative Party and the Equal Opportunities Commission share a common goal.

We want to make sexual inequality history.

That needs a serious commitment.

It needs clear policies.

And it needs leadership.

What I’d like to do today is look at some of the problems we face and outline some solutions.

It’s not a comprehensive package.

You wouldn’t expect it to be at this stage in the policy cycle.

But I hope you’ll agree it’s a fair start.

You explained that the Conservative Party has a credibility problem in this area …

… that we haven’t said enough about this subject in the past.

Clearly we have work to do.

One cause of our reticence is a source of some strength as well as a source of weakness.

We respect the private sphere.

We have a reluctance to tell people and institutions – including our own party – what to do.

We are not great at signing up to grandiloquent charters. We prefer practical measures

But this should mean that when we do make commitments, we really mean them – and will then go on to do what ever is necessary to deliver them.

More Conservative Women MPs

As practical people, it is only right that we should start with our own party.

That is why the first speech that I made as leader was about electing more women MPs.

I believe that the gross under-representation of women on the Conservative benches short changes not only women but also the Party itself.

How can we draw on all the talents of the country when we habitually exclude half the population?

I’ve put in place an action plan – the Priority List – which gives Conservative Associations the opportunity to select candidates from a pool of very talented people. Half of them will be women.

Of course, in any individual selection process the best candidate may be a man.

But, and this is the key point, it’s just as likely to be a woman.

This change in selection procedures is a huge exercise.

All selections for Westminster seats have been stopped.

All candidates have been made to reapply to the list.

And if, after a few selections, we find that an unacceptably low proportion of selected candidates are women we will take further action.

I will do what is necessary to ensure that the Conservative Party will have far more women MPs after the next election.

A better balance of men and women in our party is not just about fairness, it’s about effectiveness.

Ask 10 men and 10 women what they think are the big issues of the day and you might get the same answers.

I doubt it …but you might

Ask them to rank those issues in order of priority, or to raise issues of particular concern to them, and some fundamental differences will start to appear.

The point is a simple one – I want the Conservative party to understand and reflect the priorities of modern Britain. Unless we look and think like modern Britain that is far more difficult to achieve.

Put another way, I want the conversation within the Conservative party to be more like the conversation we should be having with the rest of the country.

Childcare

In many households – including my own – the topic that comes up the most often in conversation is childcare.

It’s something few families with children can avoid.

Fifteen years ago, 59 per cent of women of working age with dependent children were in paid employment.

Today that figure has shot up to 68 per cent.

And the group of women who are entering the workplace most rapidly are mothers of children up to age four.

It’s up to us as a society to give mums the support they need.

Some may choose to stay at home and that’s a valid and worthwhile choice.

But the majority will return to work and that’s an equally valid and worthwhile choice.

Society shouldn’t try to direct women but to direct help to women where it’s most needed.

Before the last election we agreed with the Government’s proposals for extending maternity leave.

In addition we supported the idea of allowing mums to take the additional money but over a shorter time period. That is something we should consider again.

Instead of imposing a choice on mothers, we should support the choices that mothers make for themselves.

Mothers who work should not be made to feel guilty. Nor should mothers who stay at home.

Let us stop trying to tell families how to live their lives.

Let us instead support the lives that families live.

As George Osborne has said, there are three principles that should guide my party when thinking about childcare and parenting.

Providing financial support for the childcare choices that families themselves make; not using financial support as a stick to force parents into a particular choice.

That means looking at whether we can expand the kinds of childcare supported by the childcare tax credit.

Secondly, expanding the range of childcare choices available.

That means ensuring the government does not seek a monopoly in the provision of childcare or nursery places and that voluntary and private providers are not crowded out.

And third, realising that government has a role in protecting the careers of women who want to take time off to look after their children, particularly when they are just born.

Many good employers offer generous maternity support. They understand the importance of a motivated, happy and loyal workforce.

But we do need to provide legal protection to those who are not fortunate enough to work for those businesses.

More flexible working

One of the reasons that many women don’t go back to work after having a baby is that flexibility isn’t an option.

This can be a loss to them to their employer and to the economy.

We need innovation in working practices to allow more women to work again.

Flexible working is the way forward for serious employers.

85 per cent of Microsoft’s UK workforce works flexibly.

As a result the company has better retention rates and higher morale than before.

And the example of JetBlue’s ‘homesourcing’ programme in the US is an interesting one.

With 400 women employees almost always working from home, taking customer bookings online, they are at the vanguard of flexible working.

And their employees are happier, and as a result – more productive.

And it isn’t only American firms who are making changes.

A hi-tech manufacturing firm in my constituency has introduced almost totally flexible hours, with employees told to work their 38 hour week on their terms.

That’s good news for everyone but women are particularly happy about a system that recognises their responsibilities and meets their needs.

But the benefits of flexible working are not universally understood.

The EOC’s own research suggests that a majority of managers are not yet comfortable with it.

Our job is to help get the message out.

Flexible working is good for women, good for employers and good for society.

And it’s particularly important for modern families – especially with only 10 per cent of people working nine to five.

We come in all shapes and sizes and we want the ability to mould our work ours to suit our family circumstances – not the other way round.

Equal Pay

Closing the pay gap must be at the heart of our commitment to end inequality.

After thirty years of the Equal Pay Act, women’s pay is still nearly a fifth lower than men’s – and for women working part-time, the pay gap is around 40 per cent.

The fact that the Act was passed thirty years ago, and yet the pay gap is still so wide proves that there is no magic wand.

I believe one of the most potent tools in ending this scandal is much greater transparency.

We need to challenge the culture of secrecy about pay that holds sway in too many British workplaces.

I know it is easier said than done in some situations.

It’s no secret how much I earn – or Jenny, for that matter.

But many employees have no idea how much their co-workers are paid.

It’s in this climate of concealment that unfairness can thrive.

How can you challenge the facts if you’re not allowed to know them?

Of course there are complex situations where it may not be possible or pertinent for people to know their colleagues salaries, but instead of asking “why should I be transparent” , employers and employees should be asking “why not”.

Transparency should be the norm, not the exception.

And all of us need to change our cultural attitudes to pay by being much more open.

In these areas – childcare, equal pay, flexibility – it’s not just that we have an obligation to help deliver equality, we will be failing our economy if we don’t.

Pensions

The next issue I want to mention – women and pensions – is far more one of straightforward unfairness.

Many people don’t realise that the full state pension is not automatic.

Women who take time out from working in order to bring up children or look after elderly relatives are placed at a severe disadvantage.

Those who have made National Insurance contributions for less than 10 years don’t count.

That’s almost one and a half million women excluded from pension entitlements.

We have to make sure that the reform of the pension system that follows from the Turner report provides a fairer deal for women.

At the last election, David Willetts put forward some interesting ideas about allowing people who had taken career breaks to care for children or relatives to buy back lost years.

He also suggested that the ten-year rule on contributions should be abolished.

We must look at correcting some of the worst inequities of the past as well as ensuring fairness and equality for the future.

Carers

The last area I want to discuss is one I feel incredibly strongly about. Carers.

One in eight of the population is a carer.

It’s estimated that carers save the Treasury £57 billion every year.

58 per cent of them are women, and 67 per cent of working age.

Only 16 per cent are able to work full time, with work being totally out of the question for more than one million carers looking after someone for more than 50 hours per week.

Often, with a complicated benefits system, the state makes life harder for them and not easier.

I help care for a severely disabled child – my son.

It’s what I do at the start of each day. It’s sharpened my focus on the world of care assessments, eligibility criteria, disability living allowance, respite breaks, OTs, SENCOs, and other sets of initials.

But I would not dare to call myself a carer.

The work that full-time carers or those with little extra help do is unbelievable.

They risk ill health. They battle with bureaucracy. They give up work. They often give up much of life. And they do it to ensure that someone they love stays at home rather than going to an institution.

We don’t do enough to celebrate that work, and thank these tireless people.

And we don’t do enough to help them.

There is a big agenda for the Conservative party to drive forward.

Why is it, according to a recent Mencap survey, that only 22 per cent of the parents of severely disabled children get more than 2 hours help per week from the state?

Why do only a fifth get any respite at all?

So we need to consider clear rights to respite care.

Why is it that more than a quarter of the budget used to support carers is lost in “assessment and commissioning costs” instead of going to where it is needed most?

So we should look at expanding direct payments, putting money in the hands of carers and those in need of care to provide for themselves.

Helping carers is the best way to help those they are caring for.

Conclusion

Jenny asked in her speech – can the Conservative Party be the true party of the modern family.

My answer is a big “yes”.

She points the way by saying that we must combine our traditional position of support for the family with our belief in choice for everyone.

That’s right.

My personal belief in the importance of family is based on my own experience, yes. But it is also based on the answer to a very simple question.

Which institution in our society does more than any other …to care for the elderly … to look after the disabled …. to bring up children with the right values … to pick up the pieces when things go wrong with drugs, alcohol, or mental health …

… and which institution does all of these things for free?

It’s the family.

Thank you again for today.

Quite rightly you will set a simple test for our policies. It will be the same one that I set.

In all the areas I have mentioned – pay, child care, pensions, flexibility and the gender balance of my own party – will our policies help to eradicate inequality and deliver fairness?

And when it comes to the family: do our policies encourage families to come together and stay together and be that strong force at the heart of our society we all want to see?

These are vital tests – and ones that I am determined to meet.

David Cameron – 2016 Statement on Theresa May Transition

davidcameron

Below is the text of the speech made by David Cameron, the Prime Minister, in Downing Street, London on 11 July 2016.

Good afternoon.

I am delighted that we are not going to have a prolonged Conservative leadership election campaign.

I think Andrea Leadsom has made absolutely the right decision to stand aside and it is clear that Theresa May has the overwhelming support of the Conservative Parliamentary Party.

I am also delighted that Theresa May will be the next Prime Minister. She is strong, she is competent, she is more than able to provide the leadership that our country is going to need in the years ahead and she will have my full support.

Obviously with these changes we now don’t need to have a prolonged period of transition, and so tomorrow I will chair my last Cabinet meeting. On Wednesday, I will attend the House of Commons for Prime Minister’s Questions and then after that I expect to go to the Palace and offer my resignation so we’ll have a new Prime Minister by Wednesday evening.

Thank you very much.

David Cameron – 2016 Speech at Farnborough Air Show

davidcameron

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

It’s great to be back here, because this is the right place to talk about the future for the British economy. Why? Because in the new situation we face, we are going to need to play to our strengths.

And the British aerospace industry is clearly one of those greatest strengths. It’s the second biggest in the world, based on long-term investment, science, research and high skills, and its products and expertise exported across the globe.

Indeed, every two seconds, a plane takes off or lands somewhere in the world whose wing design was tested right here at Farnborough. And by the end of the decade, if you board a large passenger plane, as often as not, it will be powered by a Rolls-Royce engine.

That is the scale and success of British aerospace today.

Now just over a fortnight ago, the British people voted to leave the European Union. That went against what I recommended. I don’t resile from what I said, from my warnings of a short-term shock, medium-term uncertainty and some long-term risks.

Indeed, we’ve already had a taste of the turbulence in global markets and in terms of the value of the pound. And there will be other problems ahead.

But I want to be clear: we will deal with them from a position of strength, with a growing economy, a greatly-reduced deficit, with low inflation and more jobs and businesses than ever before in our country.

Above all though, we must recognise we are in a new reality now. We must accept it, we must make it work. That’s the way British business is responding to the referendum result.

As one of your longest-serving chairmen wrote to me this weekend and said: “We must make the most of the cards in front of us, not ask for a new hand.”

The key things we need to get right are these: our future relationship with Europe, Britain’s underlying productivity challenges, the need to grow exports faster, and encourage more inward investment. And above all, we need to think big and think radically about how to ensure the best possible outcome for the United Kingdom in these new circumstances.

Trade and investment

This amounts to the biggest challenge for the British political system that we have faced for around 40 years. It will require a massive national effort, not just for government departments, civil servants and ministers, but an effort that means working together with business and industries in a way we’ve never seen before. And as we do so, I want to spell out the big things that I think that effort should focus upon.

First, we have got on focus on trade and investment as never before. UK Trade and Investment has gone from strength to strength in recent years. Our exports to China have increased by 90%, to South Korea they’ve more than doubled and we’ve made impressive progress in markets like Chile and Pakistan.

But the fact is, despite all the benefits of selling goods and services abroad, just 11% of British companies export. Of those who do, only 5% of what we make and sell goes to fast-growing markets like China and India. We still do more trade with Belgium than we do with Indonesia, Singapore, Vietnam and Malaysia combined. We do more trade in services with Luxembourg than with the massive economies of Turkey and Saudi Arabia.

Now people read those figures in two ways. Some emphasise the importance of our European market. And others say it shows how far we have to go in driving exports into the expanding markets. Both of those readings are right. And we need to do both things – we need to win in Europe and win in the rest of the world.

Now around the world, middle classes are rapidly expanding. Young populations are growing and growing. More and more people have disposable incomes; more and more have smartphones. And those people want to buy British – to wear our clothes, listen to our music, watch our football teams, use our apps, fly in our planes, drive in our cars. They are starting to want to buy the things we’re especially great at, like services.

UK Trade and Investment has made great strides. But we need a further step change in the pace and the effort and the activity that we undertake. And as we recast our relationship with Europe, this is our moment to do so. But UKTI cannot do it alone.

Six years ago, I gave some very clear instructions to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. To our diplomats and our staff overseas I said: you are also our trade envoys. To our embassies and high commissions I say: you are the shop windows for Britain.

We set up a GREAT campaign to promote Britain in 144 countries. You can see it emblazoned everywhere, from the Moscow Metro to the Rio cable cars that we are going to see a lot of in the coming months. And today the Foreign and Commonwealth Office is much more commercially minded.

New opportunities

So I say now we have to redouble our efforts again and embrace the new opportunities.

We need to draw up a list of the countries and territories we should be thinking of for our future trade deals, led by the department for business, the Foreign Office and more.

Now we need to develop the skills necessary to strike those deals. It’s not optional now; it is essential. Britain’s economic future relies on it – and the renewed push needs to begin right now.

Next, we need to address one of the remaining fundamental weaknesses of our economy. We face a massive productivity challenge. Yes, our growth here in Britain has been stronger than many. And yes, in the last Parliament we created more jobs in the UK than the rest of Europe put together. But our output per person, per hour is still lower than America, Germany and France.

Now is the moment to tackle it. There is no single, silver bullet. The work we have done on cutting businesses’ taxes and prioritising infrastructure – that helps, and must continue.

High-speed rail, green investment, super-fast broadband: this needs to be combined with building more homes, reforming planning, starting more apprenticeships.

And now that we are coming out of the European Union, we must rapidly explore all the new potential opportunities for supply-side reforms, for example on taxes, which could also boost our productivity.

But above all, our response to the productivity gap needs to be business-led, and I welcome the initiatives coming from British business.

Dynamic economy

I also think we should be taking note from industries that do this well. In aerospace, productivity is growing 15 times faster than in the rest of our economy. I say: let’s take your lead, learn the lessons that you provide, and get more industries doing what you’re doing.

Next, we should focus on how we can help different sectors to thrive, just as this aerospace sector does. Yes, we need a dynamic market economy that pulls its weight in every sector – from manufacturing to services. And yes, in that dynamic economy we must recognise that new, insurgent businesses, and indeed new, insurgent industries, mustn’t be held back – after all, they are often the ones that drive new investment and jobs.

And I don’t believe in picking winners. But there are sectors where Britain clearly has a competitive edge, and where there can be strong partnership between business and government. And we need to build on that record.

We’ve got it in aerospace. We’ve got it with the automotive industry. But I want us to have it elsewhere, in pharmaceuticals, in life sciences, in all the different aspects of tech – green tech, financial tech, in our world-beating creative industries and financial services.

We’re getting there, but we need to go faster, linking academia with industry to discover cures for new diseases, backing advanced manufacturing for the industries of tomorrow, making it easier for our film studios and fashion houses to flourish, and getting the funding to the tech start-ups that are set to change the way that we live.

Collaboration

And that leads me one final point about collaboration. Because when you consider the challenges that we face and the opportunities that we have now got to make the most of, it is obvious that we are going to need an all-government effort. We cannot afford to work in silos. And this must be driven from the top.

Take our National Security Council, now been operating for six years. I wouldn’t argue that creating it has solved all our security problems or dissolved all the threats that we face. Of course not. But it has helped us to face them in a more joined-up, strategic and effective way. Why? Because we bring together all the weapons in our armoury – military, intelligence, counter terrorist policing, aid, diplomacy, development – it brings all these things together to meet the challenges that we face.

And now that the UK faces – alongside that set of security challenges – a new set of economic challenges; it is, in my view, time to do the same thing in the economic sphere.

When we are trying to break into new markets and sign new trade deals, we need all our economic, business and industrial might working together in the same direction – our business leaders, universities leaders and more.

When we are examining ways of driving up productivity, we need all the economic departments at the table – not just the Treasury, but education, infrastructure, regional planning, everyone.

The threats we face don’t neatly fit into one department’s remit. I would say they are everyone’s remit.

Now it’s a matter for the next Prime Minister what structures to set up, but I would strongly advise taking an approach like the one I have just set out.

As for our European relationship, there is a huge amount of work to do, complex issues to understand and crack, a negotiating mandate to draw up, and the big, strategic decisions are for the next Prime Minister. But the groundwork is underway.

All I would say about the outcome is this: I believe it is in our fundamental national and economic interests to remain very close to the European Union, for trade, for business, for security, for cooperation. So let that be our goal.

So the right relationship with Europe, higher productivity, more exports and inward investment – these are the things that we have to get right – and they will require a massive national effort.

Looking at the aerospace industry – growing four times faster than the rest of our economy; with 90 per cent of its turnover made up of exports; and an exemplary relationship with government, academia and other industries – we can see just what can be delivered.

So I would argue that we need to come together. We need to make the most of the cards in front of us. We need to build that strong, dynamic economy that really could be the envy of the world.

David Cameron – 2016 Speech at NATO Summit

davidcameron

Below is the text of the speech made by David Cameron, the Prime Minister, in Warsaw, Poland on 9 July 2016.

Britain’s membership of NATO is vital for our country because it helps to keep our nation secure and our people safe.

It is vital for NATO too because for 65 years the United Kingdom has played a leading role at the heart of this successful alliance, deploying British troops alongside our Allies around the world, from Afghanistan to the Aegean to the Baltics.

We have played a key role in making sure that together we stand up to aggression, we face up to new threats, and we invest in the latest capabilities.

Wales 2014 was an absolutely key moment in NATO’s development – pledges there included the defence investment pledge, which set the ambition for all Allies to increase defence spending to meet our level of ambition.

And it was at Wales where we agreed a vital package of reassurance measures to deter Russian aggression.

Here at Warsaw, we have reaffirmed Britain’s commitment to this Alliance with concrete action to tackle the threats we face from Russia, from terrorism and from illegal migration.

Let me say a few words on each.

Russia

First, Russia. Two years on from Russia’s illegal actions in Ukraine, our message to Russia has not changed. Such action is indefensible and wrong. And we will always stand up for the sovereign right of countries to make their own decisions.

But we are not seeking confrontation with Russia. Indeed, we are working to prevent it. So we will continue to pursue a twin track approach of deterrence and dialogue.

The multi-national spearhead force that we agreed at the Wales Summit is now operational. It’s capable of deploying anywhere on Alliance territory in just a few days – so it sends a strong, clear message to Russia that NATO stands ready to respond quickly to threats.

And Britain will lead the land force next year, providing 3000 troops along with tanks and Warrior armoured fighting vehicles.

We have also agreed to further reassure our Allies by increasing the number of NATO troops present along our eastern flank. And once again, the UK will play its part. On land with the deployment of 500 soldiers to Estonia early next year as well as an infantry company to be based here in Poland, and in the air by taking part in next year’s air policing mission.

But we must also engage in a hard-headed dialogue with Russia to avoid misunderstanding or miscalculation. And that’s why we have agreed that the first meeting of the NATO-Russia Council in many months will take place next week.

Terrorism

Turning to terrorism, NATO has an important role to play beyond its borders helping to prevent countries becoming a safe haven for terrorists who can threaten us here at home.

That is what we did in Afghanistan and today we have reaffirmed our collective commitment to support a more secure and stable future for that country.

The Alliance has agreed to maintain funding for the Afghan security forces through to 2020 and to keep a significant NATO troop presence into the next fighting season.

As part of this, the UK will do more to train Afghan officers. We will keep 450 troops there into 2017 and we will deploy a further 50 personnel to provide additional mentoring, particularly for the Afghan air force. We will also step up NATO’s efforts to help the Iraqi government tackle Islamist extremism.

Two years ago at the Wales summit, we agreed to offer a NATO training mission once an Iraqi government was in place.

That mission, training Iraqi forces inside Jordan, has been such a success that today we have agreed to provide counter-IED, medical and security training within Iraq.

And Britain will provide £1 million in funding to help get this up and running.

It is vital that as we work to defeat violent extremism around the world, we equip other countries to deal with these threats too.

Migration

Finally, we have discussed how NATO can work alongside other organisations like the EU to tackle different challenges such as illegal migration.

Such co-operation has proved effective in the Aegean where the NATO naval operation has helped to reduce the number of people embarking on these perilous journeys from a peak at one stage of 2700 people moving every day from Turkey to Greece to around 70 today. It has been a very strong success.

The United Kingdom was one of the first countries to contribute a ship to that mission and today I can announce that we will maintain our role with the deployment of HMS Mersey later this month to take over from RFA Cardigan Bay.

Nuclear deterrent

So here at this summit the UK has underlined the importance of the contribution we make to this Alliance – with further deployments on land, in the air and at sea.

Of course, this is only possible because we have stood by our commitment to spend 2% of our GDP on defence. Indeed our defence spending is one quarter of the European total. We have the largest defence budget in Europe, the second largest in NATO and we are maximising our investment in the front line.

We will spend £178 billion over the next decade on equipment and equipment support. A lot of people talk about the 2% commitment, rightly, but there is also a commitment to spend 20% of your defence budget on equipment programme, again a pledge that Britain more than meets.

And we must invest in the ultimate insurance policy of all – our nuclear deterrent.

So today I can announce that we will hold a Parliamentary vote on 18 July to confirm MPs support for the renewal of a full fleet of four nuclear submarines capable of providing around-the-clock cover.

The nuclear deterrent remains essential in my view – not just to Britain’s security but – as our allies have acknowledged here today – to the overall security of the Alliance.

Conclusion

To conclude, I think this summit has underlined one very important message – that while Britain may be leaving the European Union, we are not withdrawing from the world, nor are we turning our back on Europe or on European security.

We will continue to be an outward-looking nation that stands up for our values around the world – the only major country in the world to spend 2% of our GDP on defence, as promised, and 0.7% of our GDP on overseas aid, as promised. Only Britain, amongst the major countries, has kept those 2 vital pledges. And they massively enhance our standing and our ability to get things done in the world and our ability to keep people safe at home.

We are a country that is willing to deploy its troops to reassure our Eastern partners or to help countries further away defeat terrorists.

A country with the ultimate deterrent. And above all, a proud, strong United Kingdom that will keep working with our allies to advance the security of our nation and people for generations to come.

David Cameron – 2016 Statement on the Chilcot Inquiry

davidcameron

Below is the text of the speech made by David Cameron, the Prime Minister, in the House of Commons on 6 July 2016.

This morning, Sir John Chilcot has published the report of the independent Iraq inquiry. This is a difficult day for all the families of those who lost loved ones. They have waited for this report for too long, and our first thoughts today must be with them. In their grief and anger, I hope they can draw at least some solace from the depth and rigour of this report and, above all, some comfort from knowing that we will never forget the incredible service and sacrifice of their sons, daughters, husbands and wives—179 British servicemen and women and 23 British civilians who gave everything for our country. We must also never forget the thousands more who suffered life-changing injuries, and we must pledge today to look after them for the rest of their lives.

This report would have been produced sooner if it had been begun when Conservative Members and others first called for it back in 2006, but I am sure that the House will join me in thanking Sir John and his Privy Counsellors, including the late Sir Martin Gilbert, who sadly passed away during the work on this report.

This has been a fully independent inquiry. Government Ministers did not even see it until yesterday morning. The Cabinet Secretary led a process that gave Sir John full access to Government papers. This has meant an unprecedented public declassification of Joint Intelligence Committee papers, key Cabinet minutes, records of meetings and conversations between the UK Prime Minister and the American President, and 31 personal memos from the then Prime Minister, Tony Blair, to President George W. Bush. The inquiry also took evidence from more than 150 witnesses, and its report runs to 2.6 million words, in 13 volumes. It cost over £10 million to produce. Clearly the House will want the chance to study and debate it in depth, and I am making provision for two full days of debate next week.

There are a number of key questions that are rightly asked about Iraq. Did we go to war on a false premise? Were decisions taken properly, including the consideration of legal advice? Was the operation properly planned? Were we properly prepared for the aftermath of the initial conflict? Did our forces have adequate funding and equipment? I will try to summarise the key findings on these questions before turning to the lessons that I believe should be learned.

A number of reasons were put forward for going to war in Iraq, including the danger that Saddam posed to his people and to the region, and the need to uphold United Nations resolutions. However, as everyone in this House will remember, central to the Government’s case was the issue of weapons of mass destruction. Sir John finds that there was an “ingrained belief” genuinely held in both the UK and US Governments that Saddam Hussein possessed chemical and biological capabilities, and that he wanted to redevelop his nuclear capabilities and was pursuing an active policy of deceit and concealment.

There were some good reasons for this belief. Saddam had built up chemical weapons in the past and he had used them against Kurdish civilians and the Iranian military. He had given international weapons inspectors the run-around for years. The report clearly reflects that the advice given to the Government by the intelligence and policy community was that Saddam did indeed continue to possess and seek to develop these capabilities.

However, as we now know, by 2003 this long-held belief no longer reflected the reality. Sir John says:

“At no stage was the proposition that Iraq might no longer have chemical, biological or nuclear weapons or programmes identified and examined by either the”

Joint Intelligence Committee

“or the policy community.”

And as the report notes, the late Robin Cook had shown that it was possible to come to a different conclusion from an examination of the same intelligence.

In the wake of 9/11, the Americans were also understandably concerned about the risk of weapons of mass destruction finding their way into the hands of terrorists. Sir John finds that while it was reasonable to be concerned about the potential fusion of proliferation and terrorism, there was

“no basis in the JIC Assessments to suggest that Iraq itself represented such a threat.”

On the question of intelligence, Sir John finds no evidence that intelligence was improperly included, or that No. 10—or Mr Blair personally—improperly influenced the text of the September 2002 dossier, but he does find that the use of Joint Intelligence Committee material in public presentation did not make clear enough the limitations or the subtleties of assessment. He says that the assessed intelligence

“had not established beyond doubt either that Saddam Hussein had continued to produce chemical and biological weapons or that efforts to develop nuclear weapons continued”,

and he says that the Joint Intelligence Committee

“should have made that clear to Mr Blair.”

Sir John also finds that public statements from the Government conveyed more certainty than the Joint Intelligence Committee assessments. There was a lack of clarity about the distinction between what the JIC assessed and what Mr Blair believed. Referring to the text in Mr Blair’s foreword to the September 2002 dossier, he finds

“a distinction between”

Mr Blair’s

“beliefs and the JIC’s actual judgements.”

But in his words Sir John does not question Mr Blair’s belief or his legitimate role in advocating Government policy.

Turning to the question of legality, the inquiry has “not expressed a view as to whether or not the UK’s participation in the war was legal.” However, it does quote the legal advice which the Attorney General gave at the time and on which the Government acted—namely, that there was a legal basis for action. Nevertheless, Sir John is highly critical of the processes by which the legal advice was arrived at and discussed. He says:

“The circumstances in which it was ultimately decided that there was a legal basis for UK participation were far from satisfactory.”

I am sure hon. Members will want to study that part of the report carefully.

Sir John also finds that the diplomatic options had not at that stage been exhausted, and that

“Military action was therefore not a last resort.”

Sir John says that when the second resolution at the UN became unachievable, the UK should have done more to exhaust all diplomatic options, including allowing the inspectors longer to complete their job.

Turning to the decision making, the report documents carefully the processes that were followed. There was a Cabinet discussion before the decision to go to war. A number of Ministers, including the Foreign and Defence Secretaries, were involved in much of the decision making. However, the report makes some specific criticisms of the process of decision making. In particular, when it came to the options for military action, it is clear that these were never discussed properly by a Cabinet Committee or Cabinet. Arrangements were often informal and sporadic, and frequently involved a small group of Ministers and advisers, sometimes without formal records.

Sir John finds that at crucial points, Mr Blair sent personal notes and made important commitments to Mr Bush that had not been discussed or agreed with Cabinet colleagues. However, while Sir John makes many criticisms of process, including the way information was handled and presented, at no stage does he explicitly say that there was a deliberate attempt to mislead people.

Turning to operational planning, the initial invasion proceeded relatively rapidly, and we should be proud of what our armed forces managed to achieve so quickly. This was despite the fact that the military did not really have time to plan properly for an invasion from the south, because they had been focused on the north until a late decision from the Turkish Government to refuse entry through their territory. It was also in spite of issues over equipment, which I will turn to later.

But a bigger question was around the planning for what might happen after the initial operation, and we mentioned this briefly at Prime Minister’s questions. Sir John finds that

“when the invasion began, the UK government was not in a position to conclude that satisfactory plans had been drawn up and preparations made to meet known post-conflict challenges and risks in Iraq.”

He adds that the Government

“lacked clear Ministerial oversight of post-conflict strategy, planning and preparation and effective co-ordination between government departments”

and

“failed to analyse or manage those risks adequately.”

The Government—and here I mean officials and the military, as well as Ministers—remained too fixed on assumptions that the Americans had a plan, that the UN would play a significant role, with the international community sharing the burden, and that the UK role would be over three to four months after the conflict had ended. Sir John concludes that the Government’s failure to prepare properly for the aftermath of the conflict

“reduced the likelihood of achieving the UK’s strategic objectives in Iraq.”

And Sir John concludes that anticipating these post-conflict problems—and I quote, as I did at Prime Minister’s questions—

“did not require the benefit of hindsight.”

Turning to equipment and troops, Sir John is clear that the UK failed to match resources to the objectives. Sir John says categorically that

“delays in providing adequate medium weight Protected Patrol Vehicles and the failure to meet the needs of UK forces…for ISTAR and helicopters should not have been tolerated”,

and he says:

“the MOD was slow in responding to the developing threat in Iraq from Improvised Explosive Devices.”

The inquiry also identified a number of moments when it would have been possible to conduct a substantial reappraisal of our approach to the whole situation in Iraq and the level of resources required. But despite a series of warnings from commanders in the field, Sir John finds that no such reappraisal took place. Furthermore, during the first four years, there was

“no clear statement of policy setting out the acceptable level of risk to UK forces and who was responsible for managing that risk.”

Sir John also finds that the Government—and in particular the military—were too focused on withdrawing from Iraq and planning for an Afghan deployment in 2006, and that further drew effort away.

Sir John concludes that although Tony Blair succeeded in persuading America to go back to the UN in 2002, he was unsuccessful in changing the US position on other critical decisions, and that

“in the absence of a majority in the Security Council in support of military action at that point, the UK was undermining the authority of the Security Council”.

While it is right for a UK Prime Minister to weigh up carefully the damage to the special relationship that would be done by failing to support the US, Sir John says that it is questionable whether not participating militarily on this occasion would have broken the partnership. He says there was a substantial gap from the outset between the ambitious UK objectives and the resources that Government were prepared to commit, and that even with more resources, the circumstances surrounding the invasion made it difficult to deliver substantive outcomes.

While the territorial integrity of Iraq remained, deep sectarian divisions opened, and thousands of innocent Iraqi civilians lost their lives. While these divisions were not created by the international coalition, Sir John believes they were exacerbated, including through the extent of de-Ba’athification, and they were not addressed by an effective programme of reconciliation. Overall, Sir John finds that the policy of Her Majesty’s Government fell far short of meeting its strategic objectives and helped to create a space for al-Qaeda.

Of course, the decision to go to war came to a vote in this House, and Members on all sides who voted for military action will have to take our fair share of the responsibility. We cannot turn the clock back, but we can ensure that lessons are learned and acted on. I will turn to these in a moment and cover all the issues around machinery of government, proper processes, culture and planning, some of which we discussed in Prime Minister’s questions, but let me be the first to say that getting all of these things right does not guarantee the success of a military intervention.

For example, on Libya, I believe it was right to intervene to stop Gaddafi slaughtering his people. In that case, we did have a United Nations Security Council resolution. We did have proper processes. We did have comprehensive advice on all the key issues. And we did not put our forces on the ground. Instead we worked with a transitional Libyan Government. But getting these things right does not make the challenges of intervention any less formidable. The difficulties in Libya are plain for everyone to see today.

As the Prime Minister for the last six years, reading this report, I believe there are some lessons that we do need to learn and, frankly, keep on learning. First, taking the country to war should always be a last resort and should only be done if all credible alternatives have been exhausted.

Secondly, the machinery of government does matter. That is why, on my first day in office, I established the National Security Council to ensure proper co-ordinated decision making across the whole of government, including those responsible for domestic security. This council is not just a meeting of Ministers; it has the right breadth of expertise in the room, with the Chief of the Defence Staff, the Chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee, the heads of the intelligence services, and relevant senior officials. The Attorney General is now a member of the National Security Council.

I also appointed the UK’s first national security adviser, with a properly constituted team in the Cabinet Office to ensure that all the key parts of our national security apparatus are joined up. The national security machinery also taps the experience and knowledge of experts from outside Government. This helps us to constantly challenge conventional wisdom within the system and avoid, hopefully, group-think. It is inconceivable today that we could take a premeditated decision to commit combat troops without a full and challenging discussion in the National Security Council, on the basis of full papers, including written legal advice, prepared and stress-tested by all relevant departments, with decisions formally minuted.

Thirdly, I would argue also that the culture established by Prime Ministers matters too. It is crucial to good decision making that a Prime Minister establishes a climate in which it is safe for officials and other experts to challenge existing policy and question the views of Ministers, and the Prime Minister, without fear or favour. There is no question today but that everyone sat around the NSC table is genuinely free to speak their mind.

Fourthly, if we are to take the difficult decisions to intervene in other countries, proper planning for what follows is vital. We know that the task of rebuilding effective governance is enormous. That is why we created a conflict, stability and stabilisation fund, and beefed up the cross-government stabilisation unit, so that experts are able to deploy in post-conflict situations anywhere in the world at short notice. Frankly, none of this would be possible without the historic decision that we have taken to commit 0.7% of our gross national income on overseas aid. A lot of that money is spent on conflict-affected and fragile states, not only assisting with post-conflict planning but also trying to prevent conflicts in the first place.

Fifthly, we must ensure that our armed forces are always properly equipped and resourced. That is why we now conduct a regular strategic defence and security review to ensure that the resources we have meet the ambitions of the national security strategy. We are meeting our NATO commitment to spend 2% of our GDP on defence, and planning to invest at least £178 billion on new military equipment over the next decade. We have also enshrined the armed forces covenant in law to ensure that our armed forces and their families receive the treatment and respect they deserve. Sending our brave troops on to the battlefield without the right equipment was unacceptable, and whatever else we learn from this conflict, we must all pledge that this will never happen again.

There will be further lessons to learn from studying this report, and I commit today that that is exactly what we will do, but in reflecting on this report, and my own experience, there are also some lessons here that I do not think we should draw. First, it would be wrong to conclude that we should not stand with our American allies when our common security interests are threatened. We must never be afraid to speak frankly and honestly, as best friends always should. And where we commit our troops together, there must be a structure through which our views can be properly conveyed and any differences worked through. But it remains the case that Britain and America share the same fundamental values, that Britain has no greater friend or ally in the world than America, and that our partnership remains as important for our security and prosperity today as it has ever been.

Secondly, I think it would be wrong to conclude that we cannot rely on the judgments of our brilliant and hard-working intelligence agencies. We know the debt we owe them in helping to keep us safe every day of the year. Since November 2014, they have enabled us to foil seven different planned terrorist attacks on the streets of the UK. What this report shows is that there needs to be a proper separation between the process of assessing intelligence and the policy making that flows from it. And as a result of the reforms since the Butler report, that is what we have in place.

Thirdly, it would be completely wrong to conclude that our military is not capable of intervening successfully around the world. Many of the failures in this report were not directly about the conduct of the armed forces as they went into Iraq, but rather the failures of planning before a shot was fired. There is no question but that Britain’s armed forces remain the envy of the world, and the decisions we have taken to ensure that they are properly resourced will ensure they stay that way.

Finally, we should not conclude that intervention is always wrong. There are unquestionably times when it is right to intervene, as this country did successfully in Sierra Leone and Kosovo. I am sure that many in this House would agree that there have been times in the recent past when we should have intervened but did not, such as in failing to prevent the genocides in Rwanda and Srebrenica.

Intervention is hard. War fighting is not always the most difficult part. Often, the state-building that follows is a much more complex challenge. We should not be naive to think that just because we have the best prepared plans, in the real world things cannot go wrong. Equally, just because intervention is difficult, it does not mean that there are not times when it is right and necessary.

Yes, Britain has to, and will continue to, learn the lessons of this report. But as with our intervention against Daesh in Iraq and Syria today, Britain must not and will not shrink from its role on the world stage or fail to protect its people. I commend this statement to the House.

David Cameron – 2016 Statement on EU Council Meeting

davidcameron

Below is the text of the statement made in the House of Commons by David Cameron, the Prime Minister, on 29 June 2016.

With permission, Mr Speaker, I will make a statement on yesterday’s European Council.

This was the first Council since Britain decided to leave the European Union. The decision was accepted and we began constructive discussions about how to ensure a strong relationship between Britain and the countries of the EU.

But before the discussion on Britain, there were a number of other items on the agenda. Let me touch on them briefly.

On migration, the Council noted the very significant reductions in illegal crossings from Turkey to Greece as a result of the agreement made with Turkey in March. But it expressed continued concern over the central Mediterranean route and a determination to do all we can to combat people smuggling via Libya.

Britain continues to play a leading role in Operation Sophia with HMS Enterprise. And I can tell the House today that Royal Fleet Auxiliary Mounts Bay will also be deployed to stop the flow of weapons to terrorists, particularly Daesh, in Libya.

On NATO, Secretary General Stoltenberg gave a presentation ahead of the Warsaw summit and the Council agreed the need for NATO and the EU to work together in a complementary way to strengthen our security.

On completing the single market, there were important commitments on the digital single market, including that EU residents will be able to travel with the digital content they have purchased or subscribed to at home.

And on the economic situation, the President of the European Central Bank (ECB) gave a presentation in the light of the outcome of our referendum.

Private sector forecasts discussed at the Council included estimates of a reduction in eurozone growth potentially between 0.3% and 0.5% over the next 3 years. One of the main explanations for this is the predicted slowdown in the UK economy, given our trade with the euro area.

President Draghi reassured the Council that the ECB has worked with the Bank of England for many months to prepare for uncertainty, and in the face of continued volatility our institutions will continue to monitor markets and act as necessary.

Mr Speaker, returning to the main discussions around Britain leaving the EU, the tone of the meeting was one of sadness and regret. But there was an agreement that the decision of the British people should be respected.

We had positive discussions about the relationship we want to see between Britain and our European partners, and the next steps on leaving the EU, including some of the issues that need to be worked through and the timing for triggering Article 50.

Let me say a word about each.

First, we were clear that while Britain is leaving the European Union, we are not turning our backs on Europe – and they are not turning their backs on us.

Many of my counterparts talked warmly about the history and values that our countries share and the huge contribution that Britain has made to peace and progress in Europe.

For example, the Estonian Prime Minister described how the Royal Navy helped to secure the independence of his country a century ago. The Czech Prime Minister paid tribute to Britain as home for Czechs fleeing persecution.

Many of the countries of Eastern and Central Europe expressed the debt they feel to Britain for standing by them when they were suffering under communism and for supporting them as they joined the European Union.

And President Hollande talked movingly about the visit that he and I will be making later this week to the battlefields of the Somme, where British and French soldiers fought and died together for the freedom of our continent, and the defence of the democracy and the values that we share.

So the Council was clear that as we take forward this agenda of Britain leaving the European Union, we should rightly want to have the closest possible relationship that we can in the future.

In my view this should include the strongest possible relationship in terms of trade, co-operation and of course security, something that only becomes more important in the light of the appalling terrorist attack in Turkey last night.

Mr Speaker, as I said on Monday, as we work to implement the will of the British people, we also have a fundamental responsibility to bring our country together. We will not tolerate hate crime or any kind of attacks against people in our country because of their ethnic origin. And I reassured European leaders who were concerned about what they had heard was happening in Britain. We are a proud multi-faith, multi-ethnic society – and we will stay that way.

Turning to the next steps on leaving the EU, first there was a lot of reassurance that until Britain leaves, we are a full member. That means we are entitled to all the benefits of membership and full participation until the point at which we leave.

Second, we discussed some of the issues which will need to be worked through. I explained that in Britain there was great concern about the movement of people and the challenges of controlling immigration, as well as concerns about the issue of sovereignty.

In turn, many of our European partners were clear that it is impossible to have all of the benefits of membership without some of the costs of membership. And that is something that the next Prime Minister and their Cabinet is going to have to work through very carefully.

Third, on the timing for Article 50, contrary to some expectations, there wasn’t a great clamour for Britain to trigger this straight away. While there were 1 or 2 voices calling for this, the overwhelming view of my fellow-leaders was that we need to take some time to get this right.

Of course, everyone wants to see a clear blueprint appear in terms of what Britain thinks is right for its future relationship with the EU. And as I explained in my statement on Monday, we are starting this work straightaway with the new unit in Whitehall, which will be led by a new Permanent Secretary Oliver Robbins.

This unit will examine all the options and possibilities in a neutral way, setting out their costs and benefits so that the next Prime Minister and their Cabinet have all the information they need with which to determine exactly the right approach to take and the right outcome to negotiate.

But the decisions that follow from this – including the triggering of Article 50 – are rightly for the next Prime Minister and the Council clearly understood and respected that.

Mr Speaker, I don’t think it’s a secret that I have, at times, found discussions in Brussels frustrating. But despite that, I do believe we can be proud of what we have achieved.

Whether it is putting a greater focus on jobs and growth, cutting the EU budget in real terms for the first time and reducing the burden of red tape on business, or building common positions on issues of national security, such as sanctions to stop Iran getting a nuclear weapon, standing up to Russian aggression in Ukraine and galvanising other European countries to help with the lead that Britain was taking in dealing with Ebola in Sierra Leone.

In all these ways, and more, we have shown how much we have in common with our European partners, as neighbours and allies who share fundamental values, history and culture.

It is a poignant reminder that while we will be leaving the European Union we must continue to work together, for the security and prosperity of our people for generations to come.

And I commend this statement to the House.

David Cameron – 2016 Press Conference after EU Referendum Result

davidcameron

Below is the text of the press conference held by David Cameron, the Prime Minister, in Brussels on 28 June 2016.

Good evening everyone. I’ve been coming to these European Councils for 6 years now, and barring an emergency council, of which there have been many in the last 6 years, this will be my last one. They can often be long and frustrating and difficult, but when I’ve attended these councils I’ve always remembered that this is an organisation and this is a formula that has brought together countries that not that many years ago were in conflict, and in spite of all the frustrations I’ve always found it very reassuring that we had found a way to talk and to work together and to resolve our differences in dialogue and in argument. And so as I leave the European Council, probably for the last time, I pay tribute to all of the presidents and prime ministers and everyone who works here who have made these meetings as successful as they have been.

Tonight obviously was an important meeting. It’s the first time that the European Council have met since the British people voted to leave the European Union, and there was universal respect for this decision, and this decision will be carried through in Britain and it is understood that it will be carried through here in the European Union.

But of course the tone of the meeting was one of sadness and regret. Our partners in the European Union are genuinely sad that we are planning to leave this organisation, and that was very much the tone of the discussions at the dinner tonight. But they were very constructive discussions, they were very positive, they were very calm, they were very understanding that Britain should seek and Europe should seek the closest possible relations as Britain leaves the EU. Close relations over trade, over cooperation, over security. While Britain is leaving the European Union, it will not, it should not, and in my view it won’t turn its back on Europe.

In many ways, I wish the people at home had been able to hear some of the discussion we had at dinner tonight. The countries, our partners, our friends, our allies, talking about the values that we share, the history that we share and the things that Britain has brought to Europe. The Estonian Prime Minister talking about how the Royal Navy helped to secure the independence of his country a hundred years ago. The Czech Prime Minister talking about how Britain had been a home for Czechs fleeing persecution in their own country in 1948, in 1968. Those countries of Eastern and Central Europe that feel such a debt to Britain for standing by them when they were suffering under communism and for supporting them as they joined the European Union. The French President, talking about the visit that we will be making later this week to the battlefields of the Somme, where British and French soldiers fought and died together for the freedom of our continent and for democracy and the values that we share. As I say, it was – the Maltese Prime Minister, talking about the extraordinary history between our countries. The Irish Prime Minister pointing out that between the 11th century and for centuries to follow, England and Ireland had been in conflict, but recently – and he said now – our relationship has never been closer, and that what a good partner we had been to them, both inside the European Union and today.

So, as I say, a positive, constructive, calm, purposeful meeting about how we should now take forward this agenda of Britain leaving the European Union but wanting to have, I think rightly, the closest possible relationship that we can in future. There was a lot of reassurance that until Britain leaves, Britain is a full paying member of this organisation and so is entitled to all of the benefits of membership and full participation until the point at which we leave.

I think there were some very important messages tonight. Obviously messages that the economic problems and challenges that we face in Britain are also problems and challenges that are going to be faced in the rest of Europe. A very important message that, while we seek the best possible partnership that we can after leaving the European Union, it is impossible to have all of the benefits of membership without some of the costs of membership. That is something the next British government is going to have to think through very carefully.

And also, while I think what you might have read and seen about a clamour for Britain to trigger Article 50 without delay, that was not the mood of the meeting, that was not what the clear majority of my colleagues and partners said. But of course everybody wants to see a clear model appear in terms of what Britain thinks is right for its future relationship with Europe. That is work that I can start as Prime Minister today with the new unit that we’re setting up in Whitehall. We can examine all the different options and possibilities in a neutral way, and look at the costs and the benefits, but it will be for the next British Prime Minister to determine – and the next British cabinet to determine – exactly the right approach to take and the right outcome to negotiate, and that decision to trigger Article 50 will be for the next British Prime Minister and the next cabinet, I would suspect, after they’ve made that decision about the outcome they want to pursue.

As I said earlier today, when I look around that table, when I think of Europe, I think of our neighbours, I think of our allies, I think of our friends, I think of our partners, and we should be trying to find the closest relationship we can from outside the European Union to work with them over the things that are in our joint interest. Trade, our economies, making sure that we can have prosperity and success for our citizens, keeping our countries safe, keeping our people safe, and it’s particularly important to say that tonight again when there has been another hideous terrorist attack in Turkey. Working together in all the ways that I suggested. That is what I think we should be aiming for.

As I said at the start of this statement, this is probably my last European Council after 6 years of coming here. As I said, obviously there have been frustrations and councils that have been more successful than others, but I would say we’ve made huge progress on driving jobs and growth, and that has benefited the United Kingdom, as we’ve created over 2 million jobs in the last 6 years. We have actually managed to reduce the quantity of red tape and bureaucracy that is coming out of Brussels. When it has come to the foreign policy of building common positions, whether that is putting sanctions against Iran to prevent it having a nuclear weapon, a strong approach against Russian aggression in Ukraine, or indeed galvanising other European countries to help with the lead that Britain was taking in dealing with Ebola in Sierra Leone, there have been many good things that we have been able to drive forward that have been good for Britain, good for Europe, and I would argue good for the wider world.

But let me finish again where I began. Britain will be leaving European Union, but we will not be turning our backs on Europe. These are our friends, our allies and partners. I feel that very personally with the people I’ve been working with for the last 6 years, and I’m sure that my successor will want to have a strong relationship with the European Union and strong bilateral relations with all those prime ministers and presidents who sit around the table. We have a huge amount in common with each other in terms of the values, of democracy and freedom, and human rights, and wanting to see progress and sharing the challenges that we face as European nations.

Thank you very much for coming.

Question

Prime Minister, you’ve given a very clear defence of your decision to call this referendum, but given what’s happened since to Europe, to your country, to your party and to your career, is there a small part of you that wishes you’d never done it?

Prime Minister

Well, obviously I wish I’d won the referendum. That goes without saying. But I came to believe, for very good reasons, that this issue of Britain’s relationship with Europe and our position in the European Union was something that we needed to try and settle. It has dogged our politics, and I think it was right to, with this question, instead of leaving it to Parliament, to raise it to the people themselves. Because of course, in the time I’ve been active in politics, we’ve had the Nice Treaty, the Lisbon Treaty, the Amsterdam Treaty and all the rest of it. And you cannot go on changing the arrangements under which the British people are governed without asking them about whether they approve of those arrangements.

Now, I’m sorry we lost the referendum. I think we made a very strong case. But you have to accept the result of the British people, accept the verdict. I’m a democrat, and so of course I regret the outcome, but I don’t regret holding the referendum. I think it was the right thing to do. I’ve been immensely proud to be Prime Minister of our country for 6 years. It’s been a huge honour. But at the end of the day, you fight for what you believe in, and if you win, good; if you lose, then you have to accept the verdict. And the verdict I accept is not only that Britain has voted to leave the European Union, but it is right for a fresh leader to come along and take on that challenge of the next chapter in our country’s story, that someone new needs to come and take us to the next destination. What I think I can do is provide the stability we need right now, and start the work of setting out what the options are, so the new Prime Minister can come in and make those decisions.

Question

There are young people at home right now who are very worried about what you and your party have done to the country. There are parents who are worried about what you and your party have done to their jobs. There are employers who are worried about what you and your party have done to their businesses. What would you say to them?

Prime Minister

Well, I would say that we had a very full debate about Britain’s future in Europe – whether to stay or whether to leave. I threw everything into that debate, and made the arguments I think as clear as I possibly could. But I’m a democrat and we are a democratic country and the British people have decided the direction in which we should go, and I think we have to accept that and put it into place. As we do so, we should make sure that Britain remains as close as it can to the countries and partners in the European Union, and that we act to provide the economic stability that we need. But at the end of the day, you know, you cannot simply leave to Parliament decisions about the nature of the way in which we’re governed; those are ultimately, I think, decisions for the people, particularly when there’s been so much change. And I’ll make that point that when Parliament actually had the opportunity to vote on the referendum, it voted by a margin of 6 to 1 to hold that referendum, and I think that’s an important point to make too.

Question

Did you go into any detail with your European partners on perhaps why you lost the referendum, and did you have any advice for them on perhaps areas that played a huge part in the campaign, such as immigration, freedom of movement, for the deal which your successor will now have to do?

Prime Minister

Yes, I did talk about what I think happened in the referendum. I think people recognised the strength of the economic case for staying, but there was a very great concern about the movement of people and immigration, and I think that’s coupled with a concern about the issues of sovereignty and the ability to control these things. And I think, you know, we need to think about that, Europe needs to think about that, and I think that is going to be one of the major tasks for the next Prime Minister.

I think obviously it is a difficult thing, because the European Union sees the single market as a single market of goods and services and capital. These things go together.

Question

Can you give us any more indication of the timing for triggering Article 50? You said that it should be after the Cabinet has decided what the options should be. Do you see any sort of backstop of when that ought to be?

Prime Minister

Well, that would be a matter for the new Prime Minister. It’s a sovereign decision for Britain. The sense I was getting from our partners and colleagues upstairs was there’s a lot of understanding – of course there are some people who say, “look, this should be triggered straight away, it’s the only way to leave the European Union.” You know, there are 1 or 2 people saying that, and I totally understand that.

But I’d say the overwhelming view is we need to get this right. We shouldn’t take too much time. Triggering Article 50 will really work better if both sides know what they’re trying to achieve in the negotiation that’s about to begin. And I think there does need to be some intensive work by first of all the Civil Service and myself, and then by the new Prime Minister, whoever he or she is, to then decide on what the negotiating aims are for Britain, the type of model that we want to achieve, and then it’ll be a decision for the British Prime Minister to take. So I can’t put a time frame on that, but I think that is the right approach, I think that makes sense.

Question

A friend of yours I believe, an ally of yours, Mark Rutte, the Prime Minister of the Netherlands, had a very stark verdict. He said, “England has collapsed politically, monetarily, constitutionally and economically.” What do you say to that?

And can I ask you on a much more personal basis, having followed you all the years you’ve been Prime Minister, I sense this is a sad night for you personally. Do you feel a sadness, a wistfulness, perhaps even an anger and regret that when you leave tonight, for the first time in our nation’s history, there will be an empty chair, Britain will not be represented at a major international summit?

Prime Minister

Well, first of all of course, there won’t be an empty chair until Britain leaves the European Union. We remain full members all the way up to the point at which Britain leaves.

In terms of your first question, we are the fifth largest economy in the world; we have fundamentally strengthened our economy over the last 6 years. We are members of the UN Security Council; members of NATO, which will be meeting shortly; members of the G7, which has just met; members of the G20 that’ll be meeting in September; a leading member of the Commonwealth, and of course we will be hosting the Commonwealth Conference in 2018. Britain is still one of the best connected nations anywhere in the world.

Now, what we have to do is to work out, now we’re leaving the European Union, how we maintain a strong relationship both with the European Union and with the countries that make it up. And that’s going to be a challenge, it’s not going to easy, but it is perfectly possible to do. We have to obey the will of the British people and get that right.

So, I mean, as I said, of course it’s a sad night for me, because I didn’t want to be in this position; I wanted Britain to stay in a reformed European Union, and that hard-won negotiation, which took a lot of hard work, that now is not operative. So getting out of ever closer union, getting a deal to restrict welfare for people coming into the UK, cutting bureaucracy and all the rest of it – those things aren’t going to happen, which obviously again I’m personally sad about, because I think that was a far better outcome than the status quo, and better than leaving.

At the end of the day, I’m a democrat. I fought very hard for what I believed in. I didn’t stand back and say, “Well, either outcome is interesting, one’s slightly better than the other.” I threw myself in, head, heart and soul, to keep Britain in the European Union, and I didn’t succeed. And in politics, you have to recognise that you fight, and when you win you carry out your programme, but when you lose, sometimes you have to say, “Right, I’ve lost that argument, I’ve lost that debate, it’s right to hand over to someone else who’ll take the country forward.”

Now, of course I’m sad about that, but frankly I’m more concerned about Britain getting its relationship right with Europe. That is a far bigger thing than whether I’m Prime Minister for 6 years or 7 years or what have you. Actually getting that relationship right is far more important. And one of the things I said to my colleagues tonight is that obviously I won’t be the Prime Minister that’s going to complete this negotiation, but I’ll certainly do everything I can with the relationships I have – with prime ministers and presidents in Europe and with the European Council and Commission, everything I can to try and encourage a close relationship between Britain and the European Union and the countries of the European Union, and I will do everything I can back in Britain to make sure that we argue for that close relationship.

Now, that will involve compromises. I don’t want to set out what I think those will be – that’s going to be a matter for the next Prime Minister – but I think that whether you are listening to young people, or businesses, or constituent parts of the United Kingdom, or our friends and allies around the world from Bangladesh to New Zealand, all of those countries will want to see Britain have a strong relationship with the European Union, and we need to make those arguments in our own domestic politics, as well as around the chancelleries of Europe, and that’s something that I will certainly do even after I have stopped being Prime Minister.

Can I thank you all very much indeed for coming. Slightly better attended press conference than some of the ones I’ve done over the last 6 years, but you’re all very welcome. Thank you.