Jeremy Corbyn – 2019 Speech at NEU Conference

Below is the text of the speech made by Jeremy Corbyn, the Leader of the Opposition, at the National Education Union (NEU) conference held on 16 April 2019.

Thank you for that introduction.

Thank you to all teachers for what you do!

I am very honoured to be invited here to speak to you today at the first ever conference of the National Education Union and can I start by congratulating you on the merger of the NUT and the ATL.

You’ve come together to speak with one collective voice. The old trade union slogan ‘Unity is Strength’ is as true today as it ever was.

And I want to congratulate and thank your General Secretaries Kevin Courtney and Mary Bousted for overseeing the merger.

Kevin and Mary: thank you for bringing your unions together, standing up for your members and standing up for the principle of education as a right.

And let me mention in particular the international solidarity work of the NEU.

I’m thinking of your campaign against private fee-paying schools in the Global South – particularly in Kenya and Uganda – and your support for Palestinian teachers working in such difficult circumstances, especially since the US chose to pull its funding for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency.

But I have to thank the NEU for another reason too. I want to thank you for inviting me to give a speech that isn’t about Brexit.

I think we’ve reached a stage where even political journalists are getting sick of it.

What happens with Brexit is, of course, vitally important and the Labour Party is currently in talks with the government which are serious and constructive.

But I know people are fed up with all the other critical issues that affect their daily lives being ignored because of it and education comes towards the top of that list.

Education is the pathway to liberation – not just for the individual but for society as a whole.

But that pathway is becoming ever narrower.

For years the idea that education has value in and of itself has been in retreat, replaced by the more limited notion that the only point of education is to meet the needs of the economy or business.

That thinking has increasingly been reflected in the way education is delivered in the proliferation of testing and competition and in the culture of educational institutions.

And since 2010 this retreat has been hastened by the devastating effects of austerity on our education system, which has seen schools stripped back to the bone and university students loaded with debt.

The result has been a narrowing of what education offers to people.

Of course a central task of the education system should always be to prepare young people for the world of work.

But we believe that it must do more than that. That it must be broader, that education is a public good and that encouraging creativity, critical thinking and an understanding of the world is important too.

The language and methods of the market have invaded our schools and universities and encroached on young people’s learning.

Academies and free schools have brought the private sector into the heart of our children’s education.

But have they improved results? Have they empowered parents? You know the answer to those questions.

What they have done is introduce the concept of Multi-Academy Trusts with chief executives on salaries of as much as £420,000.

So I’m proud that at the Labour Party conference last September, Angela Rayner our Shadow Education Secretary announced that the next Labour government will immediately end the academy and free schools programmes.

I want to thank Angela and her team for the work they’re doing on this and for setting out a new agenda for education after nine years of Conservative failure.

And at the centre of that agenda is the creation of a National Education Service which will be the great legacy of the next Labour government.

It will remove the corporations from the classroom and the campus.

Because we believe that education is a right not a commodity to be bought and sold.

The National Education Service will make education freely available to everyone whatever their age from cradle to grave – just like the NHS.

My great friend Tony Benn used to say that education should be like an escalator running alongside you throughout life, that you can get on and off whenever you want.

What a wonderful way of putting it.

And so we will make free lifelong learning a reality.

And we will abolish tuition fees.

And at the other end of the scale but just as important we will provide 30 hours of free early years provision for EVERY two, three and four year old.

A recent report from the House of Commons Education Select Committee found huge inequalities in early years provision in England.

And that has knock-on effects.

A disadvantaged pupil in England is almost two years behind their peers by the time they take their GCSEs at age 16.

Children who get a good start in life at pre-school do so much better in schools and beyond.

I want all children in every part of the country to get that good start.

School should be about supporting every child in our society to reach their full potential to explore where their talents lie and to discover their passions.

A healthy society needs the full breadth of talents and skills that are developed in those vital years.

At primary school in particular children need the space and freedom to let their imaginations roam.

Instead at the ages of just 7 and 11 we put them through the unnecessary pressure of national exams.

I think that’s wrong.

And I think parents agree.

They don’t want their children stressed out at a young age.

SATs and the regime of extreme pressure testing are giving young children nightmares and leaving them in floods of tears.

Teachers are reporting instances of sleeplessness, anxiety and depression in primary school children during exam periods.

And it’s even worse for children with special educational needs and disabilities. One teacher said the exams “reinforce everything they can’t do instead of what they’re good at.”

Why are we doing this to our children?

These excessive exams are not driving up standards but they are driving up stress both for children and for teachers.

I meet teachers of all ages and backgrounds who are totally overworked and overstressed.

These are dedicated public servants. It’s just wrong.

They get into the profession because they want to inspire children not pass them along an assembly line.

It’s no wonder we have a crisis of teacher retention and recruitment.

Forty percent of teachers leave the profession within five years of starting their training often because of the unmanageable workload.

And when the system forces teachers to ‘teach to the test’ narrowing down the range of learning to core parts of core subjects to get through exams that’s not actually helping pupils.

We need to prepare children for life not just for exams.

These tests are bad for children, bad for parents and bad for teachers.

We need a different approach.

So today I can give you this commitment: the next Labour government will scrap primary school SATs for seven and eleven year olds.

And we’ll scrap the government’s planned new baseline assessments for reception classes too because they can’t give accurate comparisons between schools when pupils have such different backgrounds.

Instead we will raise standards by freeing up teachers to teach.

Labour trusts teachers. You are professionals. You know your job. You know your students.

We will consult with teaching unions, parents and experts and bring forward proposals for a new system that separates the assessment of schools from the assessment of children.

It will be based on clear principles.

First to understand the learning needs of each child because every child is unique.

And second to encourage a broad curriculum aimed at a rounded education.

When children have a rich and varied curriculum when they are encouraged to be creative to develop their imagination then there’s evidence that they do better at the core elements of literacy and numeracy too.

So I’m proud of Labour’s Arts Pupil Premium that will ensure children can learn musical instruments drama and dance and visit theatres, galleries and museums.

Those things are part of what make us human and what bring us joy. Children should be allowed to be part of that.

The pressure heaped on primary children and teachers by SATs comes on top of the devastating impact of austerity on our schools.

More than 90% of schools have had their per pupil funding cut the first cuts to school funding in a generation.

Classrooms are overcrowded.

Support staff have been cut.

Children are losing out.

This is an attack on a whole generation who are being denied the start in life they deserve.

The shocking stories we hear speak for themselves:

Head teachers sending out begging letters to parents asking for money to buy basics like gluesticks and paper.

Teachers staying behind after hours to clean classrooms.

Schools closing on a Friday, as they simply don’t have the money to pay staff or pay the bills to keep the school open all week.

In the fifth richest country on earth.

This is the reality of nine years of Conservative government.

And although there isn’t a single area of the country left unscathed, the cuts are hitting the most hard up areas and the most disadvantaged children hardest.

Children with special educational needs and disabilities – some of our most vulnerable young people – are suffering particularly badly.

According to this union, special needs provision in England has lost out on more than a billion pounds since 2015 because of shortfalls in central government funding to local authorities.

I commend the work of the NEU in exposing this scandal.

And I’m very worried that children with special educational needs are being permanently excluded from school at a rate six times higher than that of other pupils.

We must not brush under the carpet the issue of school exclusions.

Yes, some children can be difficult. Yes, these problems are often complex.

But the increase in exclusions is being driven in part by austerity, as schools can’t provide the support and they can’t fall back on other services that are being cut too.

Look further down the line at what happens to children that are excluded, the harm it can do to their life chances, and the greater cost to society later on. We have a responsibility to ensure they have a fair chance.

We shouldn’t think that the issues affecting education can be separated from the rest of society.

Children living in poverty – children going hungry – are not going to be able to concentrate in class, as the NEU survey released over the weekend shows.

And when other services are cut, it’s left to schools to pick up the pieces.

Over a thousand Sure Start centres have closed. 4,500 jobs in youth work have gone.

And at the same time some schools are having to organise food banks for families who can’t afford to feed their children because of the Tories’ cruel Universal Credit.

We hear of teachers having to source mattresses for students whose families can’t afford them and staff supplying children with school uniforms which parents are unable to pay for.

The circumstances children are living in have the biggest impact on their achievement at school. But it’s easier for the government to blame the teachers.

So I want to say thank you to all those teachers – and I know you do this all the time – who dip into your own wallets and purses to make sure your children get something to eat.

Every single teacher in this room goes above and beyond what is expected of them.

I mentioned the crisis of teacher retention and recruitment earlier, and it is a crisis a crisis which stems from the government’s obvious contempt for the entire teaching profession.

You are undervalued and underpaid.

Because while you’ve taken a real terms pay cut of over £4,000 since 2010 the very richest in society have received tax breaks and giveaways.

Under a Labour government, the whole approach to teachers and teaching staff would change.

Not only would we repeal the Trade Union Act and introduce sectoral collective bargaining to improve your pay and rights at work, but we would genuinely listen to teachers and teaching unions about what you think is right for education.

We value teachers and we value the genius of teachers.

When we campaign against cuts to schools together, when we campaign for a different way of looking at education, we’re doing it for the next generation.

We’re doing it to ensure that there’s a cascade of improvement from one generation to another.

And we’re doing it because we want to broaden what education offers to the next generation, not narrow it down.

Because education is a public good, not a private commodity.

When all of us are allowed to flourish, when our talents aren’t inhibited by circumstance or squandered through neglect, then the achievements of each will enrich the lives of others, and the whole of society will benefit. So can I say to every teacher: thank you for what you do.

To the support staff: thank you for what you do. And to your union: thank you for the help and advice you give us. When we work together there is so much that we can achieve. And if we stick together we will win.

Thank you.

Sajid Javid – 2019 Speech on Violent Crime

Below is the text of the speech made by Sajid Javid, the Home Secretary, on 15 April 2019.

Today, we’re standing here on the site of a disused pickle factory, next to a very attractive gasworks. In 2013 after a brief spell as a medical storage facility, new life was given to this old unloved warehouse now converted to a trendy events venue.

What we see here today is a thriving business, a cultural asset and a pillar of the local community.

A testament to the Olympic legacy of London 2012, this building speaks to the optimism of those games and the story of regeneration across East London.

We have seen the undoubted benefits of this legacy. Investment, jobs, prosperity – all necessary to changing people’s life chances.

But the story doesn’t end here. In a way, I wish it did.

Economic prosperity can create the building blocks to stronger communities but that alone is not enough.

A closer look at those streets that are surrounding us will show you that our job is not yet done.

There are still too many places where that longed for prosperity has not reached, streets like the ones surrounding us, up and down the country that are instead dangerous and sometimes deadly.

On an almost weekly basis, we wake up to the news that another person has been stabbed, that robbery is on the rise, that serious violent crime is on the up.

This is not just a concern for those communities who are directly affected by that crime. It rightly causes national alarm.

A recent YouGov poll showed that for the first time, crime was a more important issue to the public than health. Last year saw a 14% increase in homicides a 15% increase in hospital admissions for assaults involving a sharp instrument, a 17% increase in recorded robberies.

This does not make for easy reading and that is exactly why it cannot be ignored. In my job as Home Secretary it is my duty to protect the public. And at the Home Office we work tirelessly to find the right policy solutions to tackle all types of crime. But what affects me more is my job as a father.

Take knife crime. Like everyone else I see the reports on young people feeling the need to carry weapons it makes me worry about my teenage children.

Will they be hurt if they’re out in the wrong place at the wrong time on a night out? What if they get into an argument that then escalates?

I may be the Home Secretary but I’m not ashamed to confess; I have stayed up late at night waiting to hear the key turning in the door. And only then going to bed knowing that they have come home safe and sound. And like any other dad, when I watch the news and see the faces of all those young victims of knife crime I despair at the waste of those lives.

Many of those lost were of similar ages to my own children. So sometimes I cannot help but see the faces of my own children in the pictures of those victims.

I find it hard to detach the personal from the policy.

So I know that if we don’t feel safe on our own streets, If I don’t think they are safe enough for my children, or if we see our communities being torn apart by crime then something has gone terribly wrong.

Dealing with this scourge is not a simple question of turning around the statistics. The reasons for this rise in violent crime are many. Changes in illicit drugs market and the drive for profit has made criminal gangs take bigger risks and exploit even more vulnerable people. Alcohol abuse and the escalation of violence through social media are other factors that contribute to this picture.

The serious violence strategy the Government set out a year ago, has been a major focus of mine, especially trying to understand how we got to this point, and focusing on the immediate that are steps required to bring the situation under control.

The police told me that more powers, more tools and, yes, resources were needed to make a difference. That’s why I secured nearly a billion pounds more funding, including council tax, for police forces, in this year’s Police Financial Settlement.

That means more money to stamp out drug dealing for tackling serious and organised crime and for local police forces. It means that Police and Crime Commissioners are already planning to recruit 3,500 extra police officers and police staff. And that’s not all.

We are supporting the police by changing the law through the Offensive Weapons Bill, making it more difficult for young people to buy bladed weapons and corrosive substances. We know that acid is becoming a new weapon of choice for violent criminals. Now, if you are going to buy or carry acid, you’re having to have a very good reason.

We are changing the law in other ways too.I am trialling reforms that return authority to the police and give them the discretion that they need to effectively carry out stop-and-search. I know this is not universally welcome. I know that.

There is concern that in enforcing these powers, BAME communities will be affected disproportionately, but we must acknowledge that violence disproportionately impacts BAME communities too. And if stop and search rates drop too low, it does perhaps create a culture of immunity amongst those who carry knives. Stop-and-search saves lives. There are people alive today because of stop and search. I can’t say that clearly enough.

The Funding settlement and powers went a long way to supporting our forces, but senior officers told me that they needed more. More support and more funding.

They asked for £50 million to be immediately released to tackle the rise in serious violence. I doubled it. There is now £100 million extra. – £20 million from the Home Office, and £80 million in new funding from the Treasury. The forces facing the highest levels of serious violent crime will receive this additional funding for surge capacity so they can tackle knife crime in real-time, and not at half-speed.

And while all these efforts will make a big difference to our immediate efforts, the lasting solutions are not short-term. We know that crime doesn’t just appear. It has taken several years for the rise in violent crime to take hold, so we know that the answers cannot be a quick fix.

Before a young person ever picks up a knife, they have been the victim of a string of lost opportunities and missed chances. Any youth worker can tell you that gangs recruit the most vulnerable young people.That drug runners who travel over county lines coerce them into committing crimes.

These children are at risk, and we can detect early on who they are. We can do that. The kid that plays truant. The ones that get into fights. The pupils who struggle at school. And even though we can see the path to criminality, somehow, we still expect these children to make good life choices all on their own.

The sad fact is that many feel that they can’t lose the opportunities that they never had in the first place. What they and their families need is our help. It is exactly why I have launched a £200 million Youth Endowment Fund, to invest in the futures of this country’s most vulnerable youngsters. This fund helps steer them away from violence and offers them a better future.

This is not a one-off pot of money, the funding is spread over ten years, enabling long-term planning and interventions through a child’s most important years. But to address the root causes of serious violence we do need to go much further. We need to tackle adverse childhood experiences in the round, and better identify those children who are most at risk.

Children who grow up with substance abuse, with parental criminality, with perhaps domestic violence. I was lucky enough to realise the dream of every parent – to give your children a better start in life than the one you had yourself, but it could have been very different.

I grew up on what was dubbed by one tabloid as ‘the most dangerous street in Britain’. It’s not so difficult to see how instead of being Cabinet, I could have been taken in to a life of crime. There were the pupils at school that shoplifted, and asked if I wanted to help. The drug addicts who stood near the school gates and told you by joining in you could make easy money.But I was lucky. I had loving and supporting parents, who despite their own circumstances gave me security. I had some brilliant teachers who motivated me to go further than what was expected of me. I even had a girlfriend who believed in me and supported me despite my lack of prospects and went onto to become my wife. Thanks to them all I have built a better life for myself and my family. With their help, I suppose, I made it.

But I do not look back at my upbringing and see it as something in the distant past. The lessons of my childhood help shape the decisions I make every day. Shaping what I want to see for other kids who are just like me. That’s why I know the problems we face are not within the remit of any one government department. By the time a person becomes a problem for the police, it is often too late.

If we are to deliver meaningful change, and stop the violence before it begins, then the mind-set of government needs to shift. We need to instigate a sense of shared responsibility.

Take the frontline professionals, the teachers and nurses, the social and youth workers, all of them already working tirelessly to protect vulnerable young people and enhance the life chances of young people.

I have met teachers who have watched helplessly as one of their students falls under the influence of a gang. Nurses who, night after night, have seen teenagers brought into hospital with knife wounds. So I asked myself, what more can I do to help the people who work on the frontline?

That is why we have planned a public health approach to tackle violent crime. In practice, this means bringing together education, health, social services, housing, youth and social workers, to work them together coherently. It will enable those agencies to collaborate and share information. They will be able to jointly plan and target their support to help young people at risk, to prevent and stop violence altogether.

It is not about blaming those frontline staff for the violence, or asking them to do more. Far from it. It is about giving them the confidence to report their concerns, safe in the knowledge that everyone will close ranks to protect that child. A public health approach doesn’t mean passing the problem onto the NHS or a teacher. Rather, it means that serious violence is treated like the outbreak of some virulent disease. A national emergency.

Our legislation will place a legal duty on all parts of the government to work together not to apportion blame but to ensure there is no let up, until the violence itself is eradicated. We have already announced a new Serious Violence Implementation Task Force, the work of which will be driven by research and evidence starting with the review of drugs misuse led by Dame Carol Black. We already know that the drugs trade is a major catalyst of serious violence. That’s why we launched the National County Lines Coordination Centre in September. But the review will also bring home to middle-class drug users that they are part of the problem. They may never set foot in a deprived area. They may never see an act of serious violence, but their illicit habits are adding fuel to the fire that is engulfing our communities.

If we are to understand violence, we must also understand all its drivers and we in government are at the start of understanding how data can help us do that. Creating and understanding the causes and pathways to crime. Recent analysis by my own department found that the top 5% of crime ‘hotspots’ accounted for some 17% of the total volume of ‘acquisitive crime’. In plain English, crime such as burglaries and car thefts.

That is why the Home Office will be developing new proposals for a Crime Prevention Data Lab. We will be exploring how we can bring together information from the police and other agencies, to enhance our ability to make targeted and effective interventions.

And just as technology can help us prevent crimes, so too can it help criminals. Identities can be stolen online. Credit cards cloned from fake machines. Keyless entry systems tricked to gain access to your car. Criminals are smart, so businesses need to get smarter. I ask myself, if we can do this, what more can business do to help us?

Products and services must be designed to make crime harder to commit. The tech might be new, but the principle is not. In the 1980s, vehicle manufacturers and government came to the conclusion that you could design products to make it more difficult to commit a crime.

It is the reason a modern car comes with central locking, an alarm, steering locks and an immobiliser in all cars as standard. So I will be chairing a meeting with industry leaders, and asking them how they will help us in the fight against acquisitive crime.

Preventing crime can be as simple as fitting locks, alarm systems, and proper street lighting. This may seem like common sense, and in some ways it is, but it works. One trial in Nottingham saw the windows in council houses replaced with more secure versions. Their evaluation showed this intervention yielded a remarkable 42% reduction in burglary from those properties. We have applied the same ideas to moped-enabled crime including a new standard of anti-theft devices on the mopeds themselves. And working with the Metropolitan Police to target hotspot areas, and design more secure two-wheeled vehicle parking.

This work led to a decrease of over 40% of moped crime in a single year. So, we are now looking to apply this similar approach to a wider set of crimes. Just as we can design products to prevent crime, we can also design policy to shape the lives of young people to prevent criminality.

Changing the lives of young people will not be an easy task. Crime has a way of drawing in those who feel a little bit worthless. But when you belong to something greater than yourself, when you have something to lose, it’s not as easy to throw your life away.

Undoubtedly, of course there must be strong ramifications for those who commit crime- there must be. I do not shirk from my responsibility, as Home Secretary, to keep the public safe, whatever that takes.

I want us to be able to come back to this venue and know that, for these communities, something has changed. But to do that, we need to change how we see our young people.

No life is less important than another.

No future should be pre-determined by where you’re born, or how you’re brought up.

We cannot afford to leave anyone behind.

James Brokenshire – 2019 Speech at Kindertransport Conference

Below is the text of the speech made by James Brokenshire, the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, at the Kindertransport Conference held on 15 April 2019.

It is a genuine pleasure, and privilege and honour to join you all today to mark the 80th anniversary of the Kindertransport.

I’m incredibly grateful to the Association of Jewish Refugees for hosting this really significant, really important conference and quite literally bringing us all together – including so many Kinder from across the world.

It was very special to be able to meet some of you just before this session and hear how the work continues on ensuring that we have that record of history of some of the things we have heard about this morning. And just how much that matters. It’s a mark of just how seminal the Kindertransport has been to countless lives.

There’s also another very special mention, these wonderful surroundings that we’re in this afternoon have equally made me reflect on previous events that we did at the Speaker’s house in the House of Commons, where I was among a number of MPs able to read-out some of the debate in the House of Commons that led to the Kindertransport happening.

And just to be able to read some of those words again in Parliament, to be able to remind ourselves of some the issues that were just so relevant, some of that debate, some of the tensions. But equally to underline its relevance to our politics today. Never forgetting. Always underlining that sense of challenging inequality or division or hatred. But all that we have as a country in that regard and equally the responsibilities that we have in terms of our support for refugees and our place in the world in that regard.

So I think it’s actually quite fitting that we should meet here at Lancaster House, a place that has played such an important role in world events. Indeed, many here will recall Lancaster House as the seat of so many meetings that changed the shape of central Europe after the war.


But in turn, the Kindertransport has shaped us as a country. The United Kingdom took in nearly 10,000 predominantly Jewish children, from Germany, Austria, Czechoslovakia and Poland.

It’s something we remain very proud of, yes. But equally, we can be proud of the incredible contributions of the Kinder to the life of this country.

And some of it strikes a personal chord for me. My father-in-law was not one of the Kinder, but he escaped Nazi Germany to Britain as a small child with the help of Frank Foley, the MI6 officer based in the British Embassy in Berlin, who did so much to provide the papers and facilitated so many Jewish people to leave Germany and make a better life elsewhere.

His father – my children’s great-grandfather – was interned in Buchenwald in the aftermath of Kristallnacht. Mercifully, he was reunited with his family.

But I know that so many people, including many people here, were not so lucky.

The Kindertransport is a story of great pride, yes. But it is also marked with deep sadness at every turn. It provokes painful questions. Why only children? What happened to the parents? What became of brothers, sisters, grandparents, aunts and uncles?

Sadly, we know that the Kinder were often the only surviving members of their family. It is a difficult legacy – but one that we must remember. One that we must never forget.

And the Holocaust has had a monumental impact on our country’s history, our democracy and our values. Even today, it continues to shape us: from people like me, like my family with connections to survivors and refugees, to our society at large as we continue to stand up and challenge the scourge of antisemitism.

Holocaust Memorial and Learning Centre

That is why it is right that we remember the Holocaust, that we apply the lessons of the Holocaust – and have a Memorial here in Britain.

Because the murder of the 6 million Jewish men, women and children must never be forgotten. Nor should the murders of the Roma and other victims of Nazi persecution. Nor still, the subsequent genocides across the world that have scarred the decades since.

And today, as we mark the anniversary of the liberation of Bergen-Belsen – by British troops so wholly unprepared for the horrors they found – it is important we all reflect on what they confronted there.

It is why our new Holocaust Memorial and Learning Centre, I think, will be so important for our nation.

It will be a centre for remembrance and education at the very heart of our national life. A place where future generations can learn the lessons of the past, through the powerful stories like the Kindertransport and the liberation of Bergen-Belsen.

Beacon of learning and remembrance

And I want to reassure our country’s Holocaust survivors, Kinder and refugees that this important Memorial will be delivered, because we remain determined that our country stands together against the hatred, against the ignorance and against the bigotry that led to the Holocaust and other genocides.

Victoria Tower Gardens will be an exceptional setting for this place of reflection and education, inspiring us all to stand up whenever the values we share are challenged.

Moreover, it is right that the Holocaust Memorial and Learning Centre should be next to our Houses of Parliament, at the heart of our democracy, standing as an important reminder of parliament’s power to oppress – and its duty to protect.

Which comes back to why we are here today – underlining that sense of past. Underlining that sense of the important role that we have in helping in international crisis and our response through refugees.

So, as we gather today to remember and rethink the legacy of the Kindertransport, it is my sincere hope that our Memorial will become a powerful beacon of future learning and remembrance.

Learning and remembrance which I know is at the heart of today’s events and why it is so important that we come together, that we remember, and that we apply those lessons for the future.

Thank you very much.

Theresa May – 2019 Statement at European Council

Below is the text of the statement made by Theresa May, the Prime Minister, at the European Council on 11 April 2019.

I have just met with Donald Tusk, the President of the European Council, where I agreed an extension to the Brexit process to the end of October at the latest.

I continue to believe we need to leave the EU, with a deal, as soon as possible.

And vitally, the EU have agreed that the extension can be terminated when the Withdrawal Agreement has been ratified — which was my key request of my fellow leaders.

For example, this means that, if we are able to pass a deal in the first three weeks of May, we will not have to take part in European Elections and will officially leave the EU on Saturday, 1st June.

During the course of the extension, the European Council is clear that the UK will continue to hold full membership rights, as well as its obligations.

As I said in the room tonight, there is only a single tier of EU membership, with no conditionality attached beyond existing treaty obligations.

Let me conclude by saying this.

I know that there is huge frustration from many people that I had to request this extension.

The UK should have left the EU by now and I sincerely regret the fact that I have not yet been able to persuade Parliament to approve a deal which would allow the UK to leave in a smooth and orderly way.

But the choices we now face are stark and the timetable is clear.

So we must now press on at pace with our efforts to reach a consensus on a deal that is in the national interest.

Tomorrow I will be making a statement to the House of Commons.

Further talks will also take place between the Government and the Opposition to seek a way forward.

I do not pretend the next few weeks will be easy or that there is a simple way to break the deadlock in Parliament.

But we have a duty as politicians to find a way to fulfil the democratic decision of the Referendum, deliver Brexit and move our country forward.

Nothing is more pressing or more vital.

Theresa May – 2019 Statement on European Council

Below is the text of the statement made by Theresa May, the Prime Minister, to the House of Commons on 11 April 2019.

With permission, Mr Speaker, I would like to make a Statement on yesterday’s European Council.

But before I do, I am sure that the whole House will welcome the news this morning that the Metropolitan Police have arrested Julian Assange for breach of bail, after nearly seven years in the Ecuadorian Embassy. He has also been arrested in relation to an extradition request from the United States authorities.

This is now a legal matter before the courts. My Right Honourable Friend the Home Secretary will make a Statement on this later, but I would like to thank the Metropolitan Police for carrying out their duties with great professionalism and to welcome the co-operation of the Ecuadorian government in bringing this matter to a resolution.

Mr Speaker, this goes to show that in the United Kingdom, no one is above the law.

Turning to the Council, my priority is to deliver Brexit – and to do so in an orderly way that does not disrupt people’s lives.

So I continue to believe we need to leave the European Union with a deal as soon as possible.

And of course, this House has voted repeatedly to avoid a No Deal.

Yet despite the efforts of Members on all sides, we have not so far been able to vote for a deal.

So ahead of the Council, I wrote to President Tusk to seek a short extension to the Article 50 period to 30th June.

Critically, I also requested that any extension should be terminable – so that whenever this House agrees a deal and ratifies the Withdrawal Agreement, we can get on and leave.

And I did this not merely to avoid a further delay beyond ratification of the Withdrawal Agreement – but specifically to retain our ability to leave the EU without having to hold European Parliamentary elections on the 23rd May.

Mr Speaker, the discussions at the Council were difficult and unsurprisingly many of our European partners share the deep frustration that I know so many of us feel in this House over the current impasse.

There was a range of views about the length of an extension with a large number of Member States preferring a longer extension to the end of this year or even into the next.

In the end what was agreed by the UK and the EU27 was a compromise – an extension lasting until the end of October.

The Council also agreed that we would update on our progress at the next meeting in June.

Critically – as I requested – the Council agreed that this extension can be terminated when the Withdrawal Agreement has been ratified.

So, for example, if we were to pass a deal by 22nd May, we would not have to take part in European elections. And when the EU has also ratified, we would be able to leave at 11pm on 31st May.

In short, the date of our departure from the EU – and our participation in the European Parliamentary Elections – remains a decision for this House.

As President Tusk said last night: “During this time, the course of action will be entirely in the UK’s hands.”

In agreeing this extension, there was some discussion in the Council about whether stringent conditions should be imposed on the UK for its EU membership during this period.

But I argued against this.

I put the case that there is only a single tier of EU membership, with no conditionality attached beyond existing treaty obligations.

The Council conclusions are clear that during the course of the extension the UK will continue to hold full membership rights.

In turn, I assured my fellow leaders that the UK will continue to be bound by all our ongoing obligations as a Member State, including the duty of sincere co-operation.

The United Kingdom plays a responsible and constructive role on the world stage – and we always will.

That is the kind of country we are.

The choices we face are stark and the timetable is clear.

I believe we must now press on at pace with our efforts to reach a consensus on a deal that is in the national interest.

I welcome the discussions that have taken place with the Opposition in recent days – and the further talks which are resuming today.

This is not the normal way of British politics – and it is uncomfortable for many in both the Government and Opposition parties.

Reaching an agreement will not be easy, because to be successful it will require both sides to make compromises.

But however challenging it may be politically, I profoundly believe that in this unique situation where the House is deadlocked, it is incumbent on both front benches to seek to work together to deliver what the British people voted for. And I think that the British people expect their politicians to do just that when the national interest demands it.

I hope that we can reach an agreement on a single unified approach that we can put to the House for approval.

But if we cannot do so soon, then we will seek to agree a small number of options for the future relationship that we will put to the House in a series of votes to determine which course to pursue.

And as I have made clear before, the Government stands ready to abide by the decision of the House. But to make this process work, the Opposition would need to agree to this too.

With the House’s consent, we could also bring forward the Withdrawal Agreement Bill – which is a necessary element of any deal, whichever course we take.

This Bill will take time to pass through both Houses, so if we want to get on with leaving, we need to start this process soon.

And it could also provide a useful forum to resolve some of the outstanding issues in the future relationship.

Crucially, Mr Speaker, any agreement on the future relationship may involve a number of additions and clarifications to the Political Declaration.

So I am pleased that at this Council, all 27 Member States responded to my update on the ongoing cross-party talks by agreeing that – “the European Council is prepared to reconsider the Political Declaration on the future relationship in accordance with the positions and principles stated in its guidelines and statements.”

The Council also reiterated that the Withdrawal Agreement itself could not be reopened.

Mr Speaker, I know the whole country is intensely frustrated that this process to leave the European Union has not still been completed.

I never wanted to seek this extension – and I deeply regret that we have not yet been able to secure agreement in this House for a deal that would allow us to leave in a smooth and orderly way.

I know too that this whole debate is putting Members on all sides of the House under immense pressure and causing uncertainty across the country.

And we need to resolve this.

So let us use the opportunity of the Recess to reflect on the decisions that will have to be made swiftly on our return after Easter. And let us then resolve to find a way through this impasse.

So that we can leave the European Union with a deal as soon as possible.

So that we can avoid having to hold those European Parliamentary elections.

And above all, so that we can fulfil the democratic decision of the Referendum, deliver Brexit and move our country forward.

This is our national duty as elected members of this House – and nothing today is more pressing or more vital.

And I commend this Statement to the House.

Liam Fox – 2010 Speech on General Fonseka

Below is the text of the speech made by Liam Fox, the then Shadow Secretary of State for Defence, on 17 February 2010.

After years of war, there is much talk in this country about peace. This is a welcome change. But peace is not simply the absence of war.

A genuine peace requires other, positive attributes. It requires freedom from fear-the fear of hunger, the fear of sickness, the fear of persecution.

It requires freedom of expression including a free press and broadcast media. It requires freedom to dissent within the law. And it is a law that must be applied without regard to race, gender or religion, accepting fundamental human rights. It is a law that must apply equally to the governed and the governing.

Sri Lanka is a fortunate country. It has seen decades of violence and terror under the LTTE brought to an end. It has a constitution and a judicial system that should be the foundations of a peaceful, tolerant and progressive society.

This is a country with huge natural wealth and economic potential. Yet too many Sri Lankans have been denied access to this potential. I have visited camps where children from the war zone have never been to school. I saw other children brutalised by a life as child soldiers, totally unaware of the existence of a different lifestyle that so many others take for granted. For those returning home from the camps there must be a new start with access to quality social infrastructure-good housing, education and healthcare. All Sri Lankans, of whatever ethnic group, must share equally in the future of this country or the country will never reach its full potential.

Of course, such infrastructure requires money. That is why I have brought plans with me for the creation of a new fund which can help provide basic social infrastructure for the reconstruction that this country will need if the end of the violence is to develop into a sustainable peace. I am extremely grateful for the support I have received across the political spectrum and from religious leaders. We will be signing a memorandum of understanding for the workings and next steps in establishing this fund and will set out details in the near future. I hope this initiative we will give the people of Sri Lanka, and particularly the Tamil people in the North and East, the tools they need to ensure that opportunity and prosperity are the inheritance of all the people of this island.

There is however a political problem which needs to be addressed if the outside world is to have confidence that Sri Lanka is a stable place in which to invest. The President won a huge victory and deserves congratulations. But the situation surrounding General Fonseka threatens to damage Sri Lanka’s international reputation . At a crucial time for this country’s future it cannot afford to have the prosecution of such a senior military officer portrayed as an act of revenge. It is not for any outside nation or body to determine who should or should not be tried in this country but how such trials are conducted will play a huge role in how this country is perceived abroad. The law not only has to be applied fairly but has to be seen to be applied fairly. It is my strong view that the General should be tried in a civil court where the charges against him can be tested with all the rigour that the law can muster and where transparency will enable both the domestic population and the international community to have confidence in the judicial process.

Liam Fox – 2010 Speech on Defence Spending

Below is the text of the speech made by Liam Fox, the then Shadow Secretary of State for Defence, on 3 February 2010.

I would like to thank the Secretary of State for his statement and for prior sight of it, although we do seem to have been the last to see the Green Paper since every journalist I have met this week has been telling me about its contents.

I think the Secretary of State deserves genuine praise for his attempts to find a cross party consensus. When the history of this dreadful government is written, his will be one of the more honourable mentions. I would also like to thank my Honourable Friend the Member for Mid-Sussex for the effort he has put into producing a balanced and open-minded Green Paper and I know that his experience in the MoD was appreciated in the process.

This Green Paper indicates that the MoD is coming out of denial but the Prime Minister is not. We are used to the Prime Minister briefing against his perceived enemies in the corridors of Westminster but not normally undermining a Secretary of State on the front page of The Times. How far away from the number 10 briefing this week is paragraph 9 on page 9 of the Green Paper which says ‘we cannot proceed with all the programmes we currently aspire to. We will need to make tough decisions.

Of course this week we have seen the truth of the Prime Minister’s approach to defence. The former Defence Secretary, the Right Honourable Member for Ashfield, said that there was ‘quite a strong feeling that the defence review was not fully funded.’

The former Chief of the Defence Staff, Lord Walker, told us that the defence chiefs threatened to resign as a result of the savage cuts which the then Chancellor tried to apply to defence in the middle of two wars.

And today the former permanent secretary Sir Kevin Tebbit talked about having to operate a ‘permanent crisis budget.’

The Defence Secretary introduced defence cut backs in December but the Prime Minister has talked about Defence increases this week.

In his statement the Secretary of State said ‘there has been a great deal of interest and speculation about whether any major capabilities will be confirmed in the Green Paper’.

But we all know why: it is because No 10 have been briefing all week that any project that has job implications for the Prime Minister’s constituency will be spared. That is taking a core strategy way too far.

There are some things on which we are clearly agreed.

We know from bitter historical experience the difficulty of predicting future conflict- either its nature or its location. We cannot base our future security on the assumption that future wars will be like the current ones. That is why we must maintain generic capability, able to adapt to any changing threats.

There is no doubt that in Afghanistan we have been too slow to give the army, in particular, the agility and flexibility it needs to maximise its effectiveness.

But we must also remember that we are a maritime nation dependent on the sea lanes for 92% of our trade. A time when the threat of disruption is increasing is no time for Britain to become sea blind.

We also agree that France and the United States are likely to be our main strategic partners. For us there are two tests: do they invest in defence? And do they fight? Sadly too few European allies pass both these tests.

The Secretary of State talked about a 10% increase in the defence budget in real terms. He also talks about the higher level of defence inflation. Can he tell us how much of the increase in the defence budget has gone into pay, pensions and allowances? And what proportion of that increase has been made available for equipment and other programmes over the period he outlined?

Can he confirm that the department’s budget for next year will be 36.89 billion pounds as previously set out? He says ‘not a penny will be cut for next year’s budget.’ What cuts does the Government envisage after that?

Unlike the Opposition and the House of Commons, he has access to all the costs of the contracts and penalty clauses for the major programmes. Why will the Government not give honest answers about the implications of the cost overruns in the years ahead?

We know that there has been serial mismanagement at the MoD, with the equipment programme somewhere between 6 and 35 billion pounds above what can be afforded. How will it be reconciled?

After twelve years on indecision, we finally get a Green Paper weeks before an election. And despite all the good words in this Green Paper today, the future defence budget will have to be conducted against the backdrop of Government debt of 799 billion pounds. That is the equivalent of borrowing 1.1 million pounds every day since the birth of Christ.

That our nation’s security should be compromised by Labour’s historic economic incompetence is truly a national tragedy.

Boris Johnson – 2009 Speech on Making London Safer

Below is the text of the speech made by Boris Johnson, the then Mayor of London, on 27 March 2009.

What did you want to be when you were a child? Was it something, by any chance, that involved wearing an impressive uniform? Did you marvel at the shiny buttons on Fireman Sam’s uniform, or wonder what it would be like to possess the natural authority that came with wearing Postman Pat’s hat?

I for one trembled at the sight of a policeman, convinced I was doing wrong by my mere presence. When the terror in a tall hat passed, I would secretly yearn for the power that man possessed.

Most people I know had childhood aspirations of becoming such authority figures with shiny buttons. Yet as we grow up, and we discover that a profession is worth doing for more than the sartorial standards it keeps, we choose different paths.

However, there are some who keep the dream alive- ultimately for reasons of high public spirit. If they don’t go on to become fully fledged coppers, then they volunteer and become Special Constables – of which there are currently over two and a half thousand in London.

Today, I was in Harrow to announce that we’ve secured the funding to train and recruit 10,000 Specials by 2012. They have the same powers and responsibilities as police officers. They can still say “‘ello ‘ello, what’s going on here then?” The only difference is that they are unpaid volunteers, working 8 hours a fortnight. So I’m calling on Londoners to reconnect with their childhood ambitions, to release that pent up desire to do good and step forward. You can still do your day job, and have the opportunity to be part of policing the Olympic Games too.

When I was elected, one of my main promises was to get to grips with crime. This new initiative will see the addition of thousands of new, dedicated police officers to the streets of our city. We’re also continuing with the roll out of the new police teams to patrol bus ‘hubs’. I launched another one in Harrow this morning.

These teams consist of nine officers and they are attached to an area with a high concentration of buses, typically a town centre with a bus station. By later this year, we will have 29 such teams across London. Their specific remit is to provide a highly visible presence on buses to deter the kind of low level disorder that has been prevalent over the last few years.

We’ve also seen over 5,000 knives lifted from the streets of London through the sensitive use of stop and search powers. New police officers are also stepping up their patrols at suburban railway stations.

So that’s what I am doing to honour my promise. My ambition is, by 2012, to have made public transport feel safer, got more police officers out on the streets and made youth violence an extreme rarity. You can help me achieve that by signing up to become a special constable.

Tam Dalyell – 1974 Speech on Tidal Power

Below is the text of the speech made by Tam Dalyell, the then Labour MP for West Lothian, in the House of Commons on 9 January 1974.

I wish to raise the question of a feasibility study for barrages and tidal power. When short-term problems look daunting there is a temptation to desert to the long term, which may appear to be easier. It is my purpose to follow up an undertaking given by the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry on 10th December. I asked the right hon. Gentleman: Whereas it is true that when last looked at, in the middle 1960s, the Solway barrage was economically unattractive, is the Secretary of State aware that some people now seriously think that it might be economically attractive?

The Secretary of State replied: I shall look specifically at that scheme to see whether that is so, but my advice is that the barrage schemes available to us could not compete with the nuclear potentiality. Obviously I shall check on this specific scheme.”—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 10th December 1973 ; Vol. 866, c. 10.] I followed up that remark and the statement of the Secretary of State for Scotland on 12th December 1973. The right hon. Gentleman said: The situation that we face at the moment is such that any possible new source of energy should be examined.”—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 12th December 1973; Vol. 866, c. 406.] It is about 10 years ago to the month that I went, at the suggestion of a previous Conservative Minister, now Lord Errol, accompanied by Dr. Robert Drew, then of Chapelcross, to see Sir William Penney, then Chairman of the Atomic Energy Authority, about the possibility of a Solway barrage scheme combining tidal and nuclear power. Perhaps because we exaggerated our case and perhaps because the relative costs of fuel looked different in 1964 from costs in 1974, we received a fairly stony reply. The purpose of the debate is to start to scrutinise the action which the Government have promised to take and make just two points which suggest that what may have been irrelevant in the epoch of cheap oil deserves a hard, long and cool look today.

Within the limit of the time available I shall make general points that would apply either to the Solway or to the Severn. My hon. Friend the Member for Bristol, Central (Mr. Palmer), formerly Chairman of the Select Committee on Science and Technology, has kindly agreed to speak on the special subject of the Severn.

First, progress has been made in France and Russia. Having visited Rance, in Brittany, I am aware that there have been disappointments about electricity output, although the French have 24 10-megawatt units. The Rance problems have been basically those of civil engineering and turbine construction. They do not stem from theoretical reasons against tidal energy. Rance does not rely on the crucial combination of tidal energy and pump storage by nuclear power. The periods of generation are dependent on the tide. That may not necessarily be so in the kind of scheme put forward for the Solway and the Severn. In the same breath I should say that the Government might do well to approach the Russians and talk to them about what they have been doing in Kislaya Bay, on the White Sea.

Secondly, whereas in the past the fundamental difficulty for tidal generation has been the difference between the lunar and the solar cycles, it is now possible on an economic basis to provide complementary pumped storage facilities. For example, development of the Chapelcross nuclear power station site could achieve a rational development by linking tidal output with pumped storage facilities within the Solway area on a low head basis. The multiple use of equipment reduces construction costs, makes additional transmission lines unnecessary and removes the pressure for special inland reservoirs. When one thinks of the difficulties of planning permission that is not a small point.

Unlike a conventional power station, such a combination would produce a steady output throughout the day, regardless of the state of the tide, and calculations show that if 4,000 megawatts of nuclear power were used to drive pumps throughout six and a half hours of low electricity demand at night that station would be able to produce a full 4,000 megawatts for the 12-hour daily demand. Therefore, the question of base load can be looked at as a practical proposition.

I come now to my two questions. First, can Lord Rothschild’s Think Tank be asked to weigh up the advantages as between a channel tunnel and a major barrage scheme on the Solway or the Severn, given that a barrage scheme of this kind might cost plus or minus £1,000 million? That is a legitimate question for the Think Tank.

Secondly, are the Government prepared to talk about tidal energy at an international level? I realise that any proposal likely to slow down the rate of spin of the earth deserves more consideration than in an Adjournment debate in the British House of Commons, but the serious question is whether there would be a problem of earth spin if several countries embarked upon tidal energy schemes. Would there be any adverse effects on the ocean bed? Do such fears apply at all if there is a two-basin estuary scheme? A great deal more could be said about it. I am limited in time, but I want to show that those who put forward such schemes are aware of the anxieties felt on this score. It would be silly not to express a certain sensitivity towards them.

We are saying, in shorthand, that proposals which in September 1964 or September 1973 would have seemed way out and uneconomic must now come within the orbit of serious consideration.

The argument tonight is not that this country should go hell-bent on tidal energy as some kind of a fad or panacea ; it is rather to extract information and to get the Government to assure the House that the case for tidal energy is not being allowed to go by default.

We warn the Minister in his new Department that he will be plagued by many questions on tidal energy as long as he stays in the Ministry of Energy or until he persuades us that we have no case.

Edward Heath – 1974 Speech on Fuel Crisis

Below is the text of the speech made by Edward Heath, the then Prime Minister, in the House of Commons, on 9 January 1974.

I want at the outset of this debate to restate the hard facts which made the Government take the steps they announced in the House on 13th December. The underlying position has not materially altered since those measures were debated in the House on 18th December. The facts were not challenged then, nor were they refuted at the meeting of the National Economic Development Council which followed, at which I took the chair.

Now the facts are accepted by the vast majority of responsible opinion in this country. The only difference is between those who believe that the action we took was wise and those who consider that we should have allowed our stocks to be used up, with the risk of industry grinding to a halt and essential services being damaged.

The measures we took, including the three-day week, were forced on us by the need to make sure that our electricity supplies did not break down within a few weeks. This was a direct result of a fall in coal production, now down by almost 30 per cent., resulting from the miners’ industrial action begun on 12th November. I remind the House that it was only after five weeks of such action, when we could clearly see the consequences for the nation as a whole, that I made my statement to the House.

In the five weeks following the miners’ action, power stations’ coal stocks fell by 3.6 million tons. This compared with a fall of 500,000 tons in the corresponding period last year. At 8th December the stocks stood at 16.2 million tons. A continued rundown of stocks of nearly 1 million tons a week would have reduced this total to the critical level of about 7 million tons by early February. That was on the optimistic assumption that the weather remained mild. It also presupposed that the industrial action in the mines or on the railways was not intensified. We had arranged for increased oil supplies to be sent to the power stations, and at 1st January the Central Electricity Generating Board had enough oil for three weeks’ use at all its oil-burning stations.

The Government were not prepared to see a rundown in coal stocks such as I have described. The alternative was just to let the situation continue as we did in 1972, at the time of the miners’ strike. The Government were bitterly criticised at that time for so doing ; criticised by industry, criticised by the unions and criticised by the public, and, looking back, I should have to admit rightly so. But we have learned from that experience. In those circumstances, it was our duty to ensure as a matter of common prudence that the situation in 1972 was not repeated. In my belief, and, I hope, that of the House, no responsible Government could have done otherwise.

As a result of the measures that we have taken, the saving in electricity consumption has reached about 21 per cent. I should like to pay tribute to the public and thank them for their co-operation. The contribution which they have made by their economies is of major importance. Both employers and the trade unions have also striven to adapt themselves to the limited electricity supplies available. They have striven with skill and ingenuity, and the nation owes them—both employers and trade unions—a great debt for so doing, and I hope the House will join me in asking for their continued co-operation.

To ensure that we can together see the winter through without further major dislocation we need to consolidate that achievement and, indeed, to do rather better. The Government will continue to try to find ways of securing economies in the use of electricity and thus of giving more help to industry. In this we are assisted by the settlement within stage 3 made by the power workers on 5th January.

Since the electricity restrictions took effect we have saved about 1½ million tons of coal. In the week before Christmas, power station coal stocks fell by less than 500,000 tons compared with 1 million tons in the first week of December. Over the Christmas period, the stock rundown was 750,000 tons when the loss was expected to be 1¼ million tons. As I have already told the House, and as I explained to the NEDC and have said repeatedly in public, the three-day week can be ended as soon as the miners decide to return to normal working and adequate supplies of coal are reaching the power stations.

There is one other matter with which I should like to deal. [Interruption.] With respect, part of the agreement between the National Coal Board and the National Union of Mineworkers is that safety maintenance should be done by extra shifts. That is not occurring, and that is one of the main reasons for the fall in coal production.

Mr. Dennis Skinner (Bolsover)

The right hon. Gentleman does not know the agreement.

The Prime Minister

I have it here, and I am prepared to read it to the House. Clause 3 of the 1947 five-day week agreement states: The union will enter into arrangements with the board to provide for the regular working of additional shifts by certain categories of workers where this is necessary to ensure the safety of the pit.

Mr. Skinner rose——

The Prime Minister

There is nothing controversial about this. This is a matter of fact and it is what justifies my statement that when the miners return to normal working it will be possible to get proper production and the coal will get through to the power stations.

Mr. Michael McGuire (Ince)

Will the right hon. Gentleman give way?

The Prime Minister

I am sorry, no.

I listened to Mr. Gormley at the weekend, and there is one matter with which I should like to deal because there seems to be a genuine misunderstanding.

Mr. McGuire rose——

The Prime Minister

I am sorry, but I shall not give way.

Mr. Gormley said: If the members of the National Union of mineworkers went back to normal working tomorrow, you would still have this crisis. If it had not happened this month, it would have been in the next two or three months inevitably. If there is genuine misunderstanding here, I wish to remove it. The three-day week is in the use of electricity, and that is the consequence of the fall in supplies of coal to the power stations.

There is now another factor of the utmost importance for British industry: the reduction in steel production. It is not the three-day week that has caused the British Steel Corporation to cut back production to 50 per cent. It is the lack of essential coking coal for the mills. The facts are that normal deliveries of coking coal to the blast furnaces have been cut to two-thirds of what is required. The corporation’s margins of coal are now down to 3.7 weeks’ supply at full production. That in itself, irrespective of Government action, will involve major shortages of material in manufacturing industry, with consequent short-time working and unemployment.

The three-day week is not the consequence of the oil supply situation. The measures that we took in November would have been adequate to ensure the minimum of damage to industrial production from reductions in our oil supplies. We were assured at the time that industry could absorb those cuts by economies, and this has proved to be the case.

The three-day week is not the result of higher oil prices. Indeed, it is essential that we meet this further external challenge by increasing production and exports to pay for the fuel that we require until our own resources are sufficiently developed to meet those needs.

We also have to make adequate arrangements to safeguard our supplies of imported oil. That is the object of the negotiations now under way with Iran and of our contacts with other oil-producing States which the Government have rightly taken on in the interests of Britain. We wish to co-operate with both the oil-producing and oil-consuming nations in making these arrangements, about both the supply and the price of oil. It is obviously in the interests of all that there should not be an unrestrained international scramble for the supplies that are available.

A number of proposals for international co-operation have already been made. It is right that there should be early talks between the major consuming countries, and that these talks should be broadened to include the producing countries. We have ourselves put some ideas to the American administration on how to follow up the initiative that Dr. Kissinger took in London at the Pilgrims Dinner, which I welcomed in the House and at Copenhagen and which I have welcomed on several other occasions. Meanwhile, I understand that an announcement will be made very shortly by the American Government about new proposals for a meeting in this connection. As soon as these proposals are received—which, I repeat, I understand will be in the very near future—we shall at once consult our Community partners about the response to them.

The recent developments in the supply and, above all, the price of oil have completely transformed not only the degree but the very nature of the energy problem that faces us and, indeed, most Western industrial countries in the coming years. They have clearly added to the amount of time and effort that needs to be devoted to the subject of energy both at ministerial and at official level. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry and my right hon. Friend the former Chief Secretary to the Treasury have been handling these matters with coolness and skill, but inevitably they and their officials have had less time for the other major tasks facing the Department of Trade and Industry.

I recall that when I created the Department of Trade and Industry a few months after the present administration took office it was welcomed by the Leader of the Opposition, who had indeed said that similar thoughts had been in his own mind about this and the other major Departments. I believe that at the time it was right, in the circumstances of the energy supply situation, that the Department of Trade and Industry should have been created.

But the creation now of the new Department of Energy will enable the Secretary of State for Energy and his colleagues to concentrate on the development of the coal industry, on nuclear power and on our offshore oil and gas resources at home, as well as on those tasks of working together with other oil-consuming countries and with the oil-producing countries on the international aspects of the energy problem. It will also make it possible for the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry and his colleagues to concentrate more of their attention upon the implications of energy developments for British industry and on the other major tasks facing the Department, in our overseas trade negotiations, export promotion, industrial development and regional policy, prices, and the considerable burden of legislation on consumer credit and company law reform now before Parliament.

I return to the question of the three-day week and the crisis mentioned by Mr. Gormley, because the three-day week cannot be attributed to the balance of payments position. That demands, as I think everyone would agree, a full working week, maximum production and a continuation of the steady rise in productivity and of the rapid increase in exports over the last year. The three-day week cannot be laid at the door of an economic strategy for growth, which has brought substantial benefits to the people of this country in terms of a real improvement in personal standards of living.

Mr. Russell Kerr (Feltham)

There has been no improvement.

The Prime Minister

Then the hon. Gentleman is in complete disagreement with all the leaders of the TUC who have been taking part in the discussions we have had and who have constantly pressed for and supported a policy of expansion.

The measures we have taken were forced on us by the facts of coal production that I have described. No one—and this was made abundantly plain in the NEDC meeting—the Government, the TUC or the CBI, can possibly welcome the circumstances which bring about a three-day week. We have not got it by choice ; we have got it out of necessity. The Government have not deliberately precipitated the crisis. We have always been willing, indeed anxious, to consult and to take account wherever possible of the views of both sides of industry.

Mr. Kerr

Why did not the Government consult the TUC?

The Prime Minister

I am quite prepared to deal with that question. As I explained to the NEDC, on the question of the introduction of the three-day week—which is the responsibility of the Government and which they fully accept—there was deliberately no discussion with the TUC members who saw my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Employment the night before it was announced, because the Government did not wish to lay themselves open to accusations from any quarter that they had discussed the matter with the TUC before the meeting of the NUM at which there was to be a further attempt by Mr. Gormley—he having made it first after my meeting—to persuade the members of his executive to go to the ballot. We were not prepared to have the accusation made that we were discussing the three-day week with the TUC before the immediate meeting of the NUM.

I wish to deal with the record of the Government in consultation and in what have been the results of that consultation. [Interruption.] I understand, from the Press at any rate, that the nation is expecting the House to discuss this grave situation in a serious way. I certainly, as Prime Minister, propose to do so.

Mr. Skinner


The Prime Minister

I turn now to the question of the record of consultation by the Government because of the accusation which is frequently made—I do not wish to enter into personalities, but it is frequently made—that the Government are seeking confrontation. Far from adopting a policy of confrontation, we have now conducted for more than 18 months the longest, the most detailed and the most far-reaching set of talks in the history of relations between the TUC, the CBI and any Government. Indeed, there has been some criticism in the House of the fact that the Government have taken part in these talks and have engaged in consultation of the fullest kind about the management of the national economy.

Over the last 18 months we have had several objectives in these talks. We wanted to establish once and for all a reasonable basis for discussing common problems. I pledged myself to the nation to do this after the miners’ strike of 1972. It was then welcomed by the TUC and by the employers. We wanted to create a reasonable framework within which wage settlements could be negotiated. We wanted to develop the means whereby the Government, the TUC and the CBI together might review the working of our economy and our progress and discuss what further was necessary to achieve our objectives. Above all, we wanted to get away from the bludgeons of economic power and the blunt weapon of confrontation.

Mr. Kerr

After the Industrial Relations Act?

The Prime Minister

The overriding objective, recognised by all three parties to the talks, was to move away from the blind and indiscriminate use of economic power and to establish a system of wage settlements based on reason. That was the spirit in which we as a Government embarked on the discussions. During the summer and autumn of 1972, we held 11 meetings on a tripartite basis with the TUC and the CBI.

That was the spirit in which we continued the discussions in January and February last year about stage 2 and throughout the summer and autumn before the introduction of stage 3. I presided over more than 33 hours of talks with those concerned. During these talks there was never any suggestion of confrontation from any party to the talks. No one desired that. We were all concerned to maintain the expansion of the economy. The TUC and the CBI recognised that a price for this would have to be paid in the balance of payments, but both fully accepted it and for this reason welcomed the floating of the pound. We were all determined to do everything possible to ensure that our exports had every opportunity of increasing so that our standard of living could rise and so that we could improve the position of the lower paid, the pensioners and others who most needed help.

Those were our agreed objectives then and they remain our agreed objectives today. They are the objectives of the Government. We all recognised that we could not achieve all the improvements we wanted at once but that we could make progress by agreement in an orderly way and reach our objectives more quickly by so doing.

We did not achieve all that we had hoped in 1972. In the absence of voluntary agreement we were forced to take statutory powers. Nor, in the discussions in 1973, were we able to move forward from a statutory policy to an agreed voluntary basis for dealing with prices and incomes. But in these last 18 months a great deal has been achieved and we have deliberately carried through measures to meet as many as possible of the policies on which agreement was reached between the TUC, the CBI and the Government.

In fairness to all three parties to the talks, these achievements, I believe, need restating. By October last year we were making substantial progress towards the achievement of our joint objectives. The economy was expanding. Unemployment was down to under 500,000 and was still falling. Manufacturing output was up by 8 per cent. on a year before, and industrial production was up by almost 7 per cent.

In the export markets, we could sell our products more competitively than any of our neighbours. In the first half of 1973, the growth in volume of our exports was 24 per cent. at an annual rate, compared with a world growth of 17 per cent. to 19 per cent. In the same period the growth in volume of our imports was 18 per cent. at an annual rate, as compared with 24 per cent. of the growth of volume of our exports.

We were beginning to achieve the necessary rate of investment—

Mr. Michael Meacher (Oldham, West) rose—

The Prime Minister

I should say to the hon. Gentleman that, in fairness to all those who have done the work in industry, these figures should be stated. Surveys showed that 1974 would be the highest growth year for investment for more than a decade. Personal standards of living had grown by nearly 6 per cent. in 1972—faster than in any of the previous 20 years. The improvement in the first half of 1973 over the second half of 1972 was 3¼ per cent.
We were also agreed that an essential part of the strategy should be to provide for the lower paid, particularly the pensioners, and again we have acted positively in this.

Mr. Kerr

Dishonest government.

The Prime Minister

We have paid particular attention, as the TUC urged, to the problems of the lower paid. Under stage 2 the wages limit of £1 plus 4 per cent. and the provisions for equal pay, longer holidays and shorter hours were all particularly designed to assist the lower paid.

We continued all this in stage 3. In addition we provided for negotiators the alternative pay limit of £2.25 to help the lower paid. For the pensioners we have provided a secure future by ensuring that pensions should be uprated annually. Our record in this is second to none. Pensions have risen by 55 per cent. since 1970, which is far more than the increase in prices over the same period, and this does not include the £10 bonus which the pensioners have received for the last two Christmases.

Mr. Meacher rose——

The Prime Minister

I am giving the House these details again because it is essential that the House and the country should recognise the background to the negotiations now taking place under stage 3 of the code approved by Parliament. It is absolutely basic to the present industrial situation.

At the same time, all of us—the Government, the TUC and the CBI—recognised throughout our discussions that the reduction of inflation was a prime objective. I repeat that all of us would have preferred to find a way of achieving this voluntarily, but we should in no way underestimate the success of stages 1 and 2 of the incomes policy, for which I have paid tribute to both employers and unions.

Most of us—[Interruption.] I understand that the hon. Member for Nottingham, West (Mr. English) does not like hearing the facts of life. This is a grave situation—

Mr. Michael English (Nottingham, West) rose—

The Prime Minister

This is a grave situation—

Mr. English

Will the right hon. Gentleman give way? [Interruption.]

Mr. Speaker

Order. The right hon. Gentleman obviously is not giving way.

The Prime Minister

—a grave situation, in which the nation—[Interruption.]

Mr. English rose—

The Prime Minister

I think that the nation will note the behaviour of the hon. Gentleman and his colleagues.

A prime objective of these talks has throughout been to combat inflation. I repeat that no one should underestimate the success, with the co-operation of employers and unions, of stages 1 and 2. Most of us would have settled for a price inflation of 3 per cent. or 4 per cent. a year, and that is what we would have had, thanks to the vast growth of the economy and the restraint of employers and unions, but for the rapid and massive rise in world prices of foodstuffs and raw materials. [HON. MEMBERS: “Ah.”] Again, hon. Members are sceptical. Let me give them the figures, from the Economist. The world prices of commodities have risen by no less than 119 per cent. and the world price of food by 113 per cent. Against that background, I should have thought that both employers and unions can count it a substantial achievement to hold the increase in domestic prices to under 10 per cent

The effect of our counter-inflationary policy has been to ensure that we have been able to hold down domestic costs better than most other industrial countries. We have averted the danger of piling a substantial domestic inflation on top of inflation produced by world prices.

Perhaps I may quote the new General Secretary of the TUC. He has emphasised that In the long term, it is still true that the solution to our problems lies in economic growth, it lies in continuing expansion and it lies in continuing investment. That is still the Government’s view, and it makes it absolutely imperative that this country should continue the battle against wage-cost inflation.

Indeed, the large increase in prices that we shall have to pay for oil makes it more important to continue with expansion and not less important—

Mr. Skinner

Your own party does not believe you.

The Prime Minister

But, of course, the fruits of this expansion will have to go in a greater degree to pay for the cost of that oil instead of going to improve our standard of living. Those are the hard facts of the present situation.

In the present circumstances, therefore, I believe that, far from being accused of confrontation, the Government are entitled to ask for a positive response from the trade union movement as a whole for what we have achieved in reply to the points which they, with employers, have put to us. They have benefited from a policy of growth which they demanded and which they fully supported. They have benefited from a policy which brought unemployment below 500,000, which filled order books, which provided a high level of production, improved standards of living and brought over the last year a substantial measure of industrial peace.

In stage 3 itself, the Government have gone as far as possible to meet the points put to us in our discussions with the TUC and the CBI. They asked for a greater flexibility for negotiators. How often we hear at this moment that there must be flexibility. Well, let those who ask for that consider the immense amount of flexibility in the stage 3 negotiations which has been used, rightly used, taken advantage of fully and accepted, by so many negotiators who have already completed their negotiations.

Flexibility has been built into the code—[Interruption.] I am sorry, but in this serious situation, Labour Members will not shout me down, however much they may wish to do so. The flexibility has been introduced into the code in the 1 per cent. flexibility margin, in the provision for hours and holidays and, in particular, in the provision for unsocial hours and in the choice of pay limits. The TUC and the employers asked for the opportunity to negotiate efficiency agreements. These opportunities are included in the code and are being used.

I do not intend to speak in detail of the miners’ pay claim. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Employment is discussing it with the NUM executive this afternoon and he will be taking part in the debate tomorrow. There are certain things in general about it which I wish to say. All the provisions of stage 3 are available to the miners for negotiation. The offer to the miners includes payment for unsocial hours. I am told that there are different arrangements about shifts in mining from manufacturing industry. [Interruption.]

Hon. Gentlemen are sceptical. It was Mr. Jack Jones who raised the matter in the National Economic Development Council. Of course, the miners have been offered an arrangement specifically to deal with the night shifts. If they so wish they can negotiate on these matters. What cannot be done is to deal with all the problems at once on a scale far greater than that already dealt with within the code.

In addition to the basic rate there is the flexibility allowance which the miners have chosen to use to extend their holiday arrangements. That is entirely up to them and is a perfectly fair arrangement for them to ask for. There are special arrangements for unsocial hours which they have opted to use for the night shift. There are bigger lump sums on retirement. All of these are part of the flexibility arrangements, in addition to the basic rate, which have been offered to the miners in the negotiations.

It can be summed up in this way. The offer made to the NUM represents the best offer made to its members in the whole history of negotiations. Even without a 3½ per cent. efficiency increase the offer would give 25 per cent. of miners £6.30p extra a week, 50 per cent. of miners more than £4.75p a week and 75 per cent. of miners more than £3.30p a week. This offer means that average earnings for some underground craftsmen would rise to £55 a week, for some power loaders to £51 a week and for surface men, grade 2, to about £39 a week. All this is before account is taken of the efficiency deal which is available for negotiation between the union and the National Coal Board.

When I saw the NUM on 28th November I discussed all of these details with it. I said to it, and I emphasise this, that if it accepted a stage 3 settlement and resumed normal production the Government would be ready immediately thereafter to consider with both sides of the industry the miners’ pay arrangements in the context of the longer-term future for the industry.

Mr. Skinner rose—

The Prime Minister

Perhaps if the hon. Gentleman were to listen to the offer which has been made.

Mr. Skinner

Why will not the right hon. Gentleman give way?

The Prime Minister

If the hon. Gentleman listened to what I have to say, I might be more willing to give way.

As this point has recently been raised in the Press by responsible commentators it is right that they should have the answer to it. The Secretary of State for Employment repeated this to the leaders of the NUM on 20th December and will repeat it to the full executive of the NUM today.

There are some, including the Leader of the Opposition, who say that we should breach stage 3 and give the miners a better offer. For the Government to do that would be to break faith with millions of workers who have already settled under stage 3. I should like to give the House some figures. By the end of 1973 well over 550 settlements covering 4 million workers had been notified to the Pay Board. This includes over 1 million local authority manual workers, 250,000 National Health Service ancillary workers, over 300,000 agricultural workers and another 500,000 workers covered by various wages councils.

It also includes more than 1½ million workers who have taken advantage of the provisions in stage 3 to help the lower paid. Up to the end of December no major group of workers had failed to reach a settlement within stage 3 by the due date. That is an acceptance of stage 3 by nearly 4 million workers in nearly 550 settlements. I suggest that there is no evidence there of 4 million workers considering this as a confrontation with the Government.

The offer made to the miners within stage 3 gives an average increase of between 13 per cent. and 16 per cent., with the additional efficiency payments. The average size of the settlements agreed in stage 3, of which I have given details, is considerably lower than the 13 per cent. offered to the miners, which excludes the offer of the efficiency agreement of 3½ per cent.

While these agreements in stage 3 were being made we have been able, as a result of the Pay Board report on anomalies, to sort out a large number of anomalies and reach agreement. These were anomalies which arose as a result of stages 1 and 2. I would have thought that the House would accept that to sort out those anomalies by agreement with the unions and to have 550 settlements covering 4 million workers under stage 3 is no mean achievement and is due to the work of employers and unions within the framework of the code approved by Parliament.

Mrs. Barbara Castle (Blackburn)

If the Pay Board report on relativities, which I understand is due out shortly, makes out a case for special cases to receive special payment, are the Government prepared to amend the pay code immediately?

The Prime Minister

That is a perfectly fair question for the right hon. Lady to raise and I hope that she will give the Government credit for having asked the Pay Board not only to deal with anomalies within stages 1 and 2 but also to deal with the much deeper question of relativities in industry. We have given an undertaking that immediately the report is published we will consult with the TUC and the CBI to take action upon it. We cannot give a clearer or firmer undertaking than that. We immediately entered into discussions with the CBI and TUC about the anomalies report and will do the same about the report on relativities when it reaches us from the Pay Board. We asked for it to come to us by 31st December. It is no fault of the Government’s that it has not reached us. On the other hand, we recognise the complexities of this matter and the details which the Pay Board has to consider in all the representations which have been made to it.

I suggest, therefore, that far from this being a confrontation between the Government and the unions, exactly the reverse is the case—that we have sought their assistance in consultation and that, under stage 3, 4 million workers have reached a settlement and many of the anomalies have now been dealt with and peacefully settled.

I believe, therefore, that we should keep faith with those who have accepted the code approved by Parliament and who, therefore, expected that the Government would ensure that the remaining settlements under stage 3 were fully in accordance with it. That, I believe, is an honourable position for the Government to take up.

Mr. Stanley Orme (Salford, West)

Does the Prime Minister say, therefore, that the TUC is in favour of stage 3? Is he not aware—he has been told by the TUC—that the TUC is completely opposed to it and that many of the trade unions that have made agreements have been forced to do so by the Government’s policies? While the Prime Minister is talking about stage 3, will he say whether the Glasgow firemen’s settlement comes within its terms?

The Prime Minister

On the last part of the hon. Gentleman’s question, as he knows that is being considered by the Pay Board, in the way in which the other 550 settlements have been considered. I cannot agree with the hon. Gentleman that the Government have been able to force anyone to reach a decision in this matter ; far from it. These are voluntarily negotiated agreements. [Interruption.] Let me deal with the hon. Gentleman’s first point. I have never disguised for one moment that both employers and trade unionists would prefer to have voluntary collective bargaining, provided that they could be assured that there would not be inflationary leapfrogging, and in none of these discussions has any way been shown how that can be avoided. It was, therefore, the responsibility of the Government to carry through stage 3.

Therefore, the objectives have not changed. We all want to reduce the rate of increase in prices which comes from wage costs, and that is the objective of stage 3. We all want, once the immediate emergency is behind us, to resume the expansion of the economy which we were able to achieve in 1973. We shall do our utmost as a Government to ensure that supplies of oil do not hinder us in this objective.

These objectives are agreed between employers, unions and the Government. The life of every man, woman, and child in this country will be better if we can realise those objectives. I say again to the House and to the country ; does not the best hope of doing so lie in our sitting down together, as we have done over the past 18 months, to talk to each other about these objectives—the Government, the CBI and the TUC?

Mr. Kerr

Repeal the Industrial Relations Act.

The Prime Minister

I have repeatedly made plain to those who have taken part in talks with us that we shall fully consider any proposals for amendments to the Industrial Relations Act. I repeat that no proposals have been made to us at these talks, by either the employers or the unions.

I strongly believe—I repeat it—that it is only through reason, through reasoned argument and reasoned agreement, that, as a nation, we can progress. This does not mean that trade unions and other groups in our society are asked to neglect their own interests ; far from it. Again, in these talks all have always realised that. It does mean that they are asked to take the longer-term view of their own interests—

Mr. Skinner

Jam tomorrow.

The Prime Minister

—to consider their interests in the context of the needs and the interests of the rest of the community.

If we try to achieve sectional interests by fighting each other we fail in our sectional objectives and we end by destroying this country. Surely we should follow the alternative course—a course of reason and, indeed, of moderation.

We should be trying to marry our sectional objectives in policies and programmes which serve the interests of the community as a whole. That was the spirit in which the Government embarked upon the tripartite talks in 1972. My colleagues and I are ready at any time to resume discussions with the CBI and the TUC, together or separately, in that same spirit ; not to try to score debating points, not to exchange recriminations about the past—for we have, none of us, done any of this in the tripartite and bipartite talks that we have had so far—but to try together to work out a programme which may not immediately meet all the desires of any of us but which will provide a framework within which we can meet our agreed objectives for the country and make orderly progress with our separate aspirations, progress which is not at the expense of other people but which takes account of the needs and aspirations of the ordinary people of this country—consumers, housewives and pensioners—to go about their lives in order and stability.

There is to be a special congress of trade union leaders next week. I invite them at their meeting to take up this offer which I am making today here in Parliament, to come together with the Government and the representatives of management, not in a spirit of confrontation and suspicion—[Interruption.] I am sorry that Opposition Members should reveal their complete ignorance of the attitude of the trade union leaders who attended the No. 10 talks and the Chequers talks.

I invite the trade union leaders now to come together with the Government and the representatives of management, not in a spirit of confrontation and suspicion, but in a spirit of constructiveness, of moderation and of reason. It is not too late for reason to prevail. It is not too late to discuss and settle all these matters within the framework which Parliament has approved. It is not too late to look to the future and to plot our course together. Indeed, it is in the interests of the whole nation that we should do so, and do so as rapidly as possible.