Blair Speech Transcripts, from 1997 -2007



Saturday 12 June 1997

PM press conference in the USA (Denver) – one month into Tony Blair’s first term of office.


Prime Minister, you are having talks with President Clinton today; obviously you will get a lot of sympathy for your problems on Northern Ireland, what are you looking for in practical terms?

Prime Minister:

What is really important is that we carry on building support for what the British government has been doing, which is trying to take forward the process in Northern Ireland, build a lasting settlement, and we have made every effort to give Sinn Fein the chance to come in. But the ball is in their court and the strength of feeling here is that we have done the right thing and now it is up to them to decide whether they really want to be part of this or not because we can’t wait forever.


What can you do to persuade Sinn Fein that there won’t always be another last chance?

Prime Minister:

It is not a question of persuading them. They know what the position is and we have made every effort to make sure that we build an inclusive talks process, because the people of Northern Ireland have got the right to expect the government to push this process forward, with or without Sinn Fein. So the ball is in their court. And I think the important thing is that even here in America, where Sinn Fein used to rely on some support, the people are right behind the British government.


How soon after a ceasefire could they be in talks and are you and the President agreed on that sort of time interval?

Prime Minister:

All the way through the question is whether the ceasefire, if they call one, is clear and unequivocal. That is the test. And what is absolutely essential is that they understand that position has never changed and won’t change. And the important thing is that people realise that if they want to be part of this process, they do it on the basis of the democratic non-violent path. But if they are not prepared to give that up, we cannot allow the people of Northern Ireland to be prevented from getting a decent settlement on the basis that they won’t behave properly.


Will you be asking President Clinton to break off all contact with Sinn Fein?

Prime Minister:

That is not for me to say. But I think what is important is that he knows that we have tried every single thing that we can in order to make this process work and to get Sinn Fein in. And I think the change in feeling here in the United States is because people have seen the British government go that extra way to try and make sure that this process is inclusive of Sinn Fein. There is a strong recognition here, as there is back in the United Kingdom, that that process can’t wait upon Sinn Fein.


You are leading the discussion at lunchtime on jobs, the economy and so on. Isn’t it perhaps President Clinton who ought to be taking the lead there? He has created 12 million jobs.

Prime Minister:

I think there is an exchange of views here. What we are really saying, both ourselves and the Americans – and I think there is some common ground now being established with our other European partners – is that it is a completely different type of economy today – new technology and the way that people work – and that we have got to build a different type of programme of economic change where we are equipping people through education, skills and technology to survive in this new world. But we are also taking measures to deal with the large number of people, the long term unemployed, shut out of society with no hope or opportunity. So if you like, it is not just saying: this is the way that we create jobs. It is also: this is the way that we bring into our society, into the mainstream, those people who are shut out, the long term unemployed, the young unemployed and those people who are right down at the bottom of the pile.


That is the problem of the underclass, isn’t it, which they have here and of course we have across the way. Any practical ideas you want to put to the meeting about how you are going to deal with the underclass?

Prime Minister:

Our essential message is that the way to deal with the problems of the underclass is education and welfare reform. You have got to give people the education they require otherwise they are never going to be able to compete in today’s market. But secondly, you have got to reform your welfare system so that you are building into it incentives to work and get on, not to spend a life on benefit. And I think that different way, that third way if you like, between the old-style state intervention and then just saying well it is up to the market, the market rules, it doesn’t matter if you have got a whole lot of people left out – that third way is where we are, where the Americans are and where I think we can build upon a common position.


Can you see time limits on benefits in the UK sometime in the future?

Prime Minister:

We are going to introduce a programme in the UK, the Welfare-to-Work programme, which will be outlined in the budget, where we will be saying there are options for young people who are offered decent education programmes or jobs, that the option of a life on benefit isnt there. And I think that is the new deal on welfare: you give people the opportunity but you expect them to take that opportunity in return.


Speech by the Prime Minister on foreign affairs, Tuesday 15th December 1998

I have said before that though Britain will never be the mightiest nation on earth, we can be pivotal.It means building on the strengths of our history; it means building new alliances; developing new influence; charting a new course for British foreign policy.It means realising once and for all that Britain does not have to choose between being strong with the US, or strong with Europe; it means having the confidence to see that Britain can be both. Indeed, that Britain must be both; that we are stronger with the US because of our strength in Europe; that we are stronger in Europe because of our strength with the US.When I launched recently the debate on a new role for Europe in defence, there was an instant rush to judgement in some parts that this would lead to a weakening of the transatlantic alliance. On the contrary, this has been welcomed in the US, by the Administration and others.As that debate unfolds, and I welcome the support expressed in Vienna at the weekend for our initiative with the French, then it is one in which I will ensure the Americans are fully engaged.Britain’s relationship with the US has been fundamental to our foreign policy throughout this century. Twice the US have come to our help to preserve democracy and freedom in Europe. We battled together throughout the Cold War. We have stood shoulder to shoulder in NATO. We were at the core of the successful coalition in the Gulf War. We remain absolutely together in our analysis of the continuing dangers posed by Saddam Hussein and our determination not to allow him Weapons of Mass Destruction, on which Richard Butler is due to report to the Security Council in the next day or so.In the economic field, Americans and British have defended free and open markets around the world, and the establishment of a rule-based international trade system. We do not always see eye to eye – most recently on bananas – but our underlying principles are the same. The links between our two economies extend into all areas – two-way trade is expected to be £50 billion this year. Including services, the US is easily Britain’s largest export market. Britain is the main direct investor in the US with almost $150 billion, providing employment for almost one million Americans. 40% of US investment in the EU comes to Britain.All this is underpinned by deep-rooted commitment to political pluralism and freedom, by the myriad personal and cultural ties between the British and American peoples, and by two societies comfortable with each other. We remain very distinct and different countries in so many ways, as anyone who knows both can readily testify. But people travelling in both directions find a warmth and a welcome, and an ease of communication, that make them feel instantly at home.I value this closeness, and the richness of its bindings. It is language, history, shared values, friendship. It is much more than sentimentality. A hard-headed assessment of the value of good relations with the one remaining superpower would lead us to good relations anyway. But I also believe America at its best is a powerful force for good in the world; one of a few countries willing and able to stand up for what it believes. It is right for us to be close and for that relationship to work for the fundamental principles we both believe in.But to say that does not for one second negate the importance of Britain being a strong and leading player in Europe.I made very clear, before the election, that a new Government would mean a new approach in Europe. The last Government, despite what I believe were the best intentions of the last Prime Minister, allowed Britain to be taken to the margins of Europe.We are in the European Union because it is the right place to be. And as we are in, it is time we started winning arguments, rather than running away from them.The logical conclusion of the Euro-sceptic approach that says everything that comes out of Europe is bad; that says Europe is something that is done to us, rather than something that we can shape; is to get out of Europe altogether. That would at least be an honest intellectual position. But it would be a disaster for British jobs, British trade, British influence in the world.Far better is to be in there, engage in the arguments, and win the arguments.There are two forms of Euro-scepticism. The first, for which I have no time, looks at anything that happens in Europe as an excuse to be anti-European. It was a minority sport in the last Government. It is where, sadly, the majority in today’s Conservative Party seems to be.The second, more intelligent scepticism, realises Europe is of vital importance to Britain, but is anxious about the direction Europe is taking. It fears, if I am again being frank, that because centre and centre left governments are now in the ascendancy in Europe, there will be a return of old Labour.But again, people should have confidence in their own arguments. I have always believed that over time, the right arguments win in politics.Enterprise and fairness. That is what we stand for. That is the argument we promote.

My vision for New Labour is to become, as the Liberal Party was in the 19th Century, a broad coalition of those who believe in progress and justice, not a narrow class-based politics, but a Party founded on clear values, whose means of implementation change with the generations.

Enterprise and fairness together. The third way; and those of you who report beyond these shores know that it is striking a chord right around Europe. It is a reflection of the lack of confidence I referred to that the extent of the debate on the third way generated around Europe is barely covered here at home.

We won with the landslide we secured not just because the last Government was discredited but because we combined policies of economic rigour, fiscal and monetary stability, with the insight that the market alone cannot deliver social justice; but that the answer lay not in tax and spend policies, but in an agenda that tackles youth and long-term unemployment, as we are doing through the New Deal, that promotes education, lifelong learning, a skills revolution; that invests in small businesses, technology and infrastructure.

Again, the unintelligent scepticism warned that because the new Government planned to sign the Social Chapter, we would put at risk hundreds of thousands of jobs, up to one million, some Tories said. But with Britain as part of the Social Chapter, there has been no new legislation put through at all. Another scare story bites the dust.

The Employment Chapter of the Amsterdam Treaty was another example. Dire warnings about the business-threatening regulatory approach were issued. What happened? We and others argued our case for the economic reform agenda, and we won that argument.

The unintelligent scepticism saw the beef ban as an excuse to declare war on the rest of Europe. Where did it get us? Nowhere. No nearer getting the ban lifted. No nearer getting help for farmers.

We called off the war, stepped up the diplomacy, spelled out the facts, patiently, robustly, built up the alliances, and got the ban lifted.

In advance of Vienna, alliances had to be built – on employment and economic reform issues with the Spanish, on tax with the Germans, on social policy with the Swedes, on defence with the French, on duty free goods with the French, the Germans and others. We built those alliances, we engaged in those arguments, and we protected and promoted our national interests.

And today I read, in the front page headlines of one of our broadsheets, that being positive and constructive in Europe, amounts to me issuing orders to the Government to “bat for Brussels.” So that when I say to the Government – get close to our allies in Europe, I am somehow batting for Brussels. I see it as batting for Britain.

I will pursue this new approach in Europe not because it is in Europe’s interests but because it is in Britain’s interests.

We have deluded ourselves for too long with the false choice between the US and Europe. We live in a global economy, and an interdependent world. Nations must maximise their influence wherever they can. To be a country of our size and population, and to be a permanent member of the UN Security Council, a nuclear power, a leading player in NATO, a leading player in the Commonwealth, gives us huge advantages which we must exploit to the full.

Our membership of the EU gives us huge advantages too, and we must exploit those to the full as well. It requires a new maturity in our relations with Europe. This new Government will deliver that new maturity, and Britain will be the winner from it.

Find other 1998 speeches here

26 February, 1998

Joint Statement by the Prime Minister and Taoiseach, Thursday 26 February 1998

Prime Minister:

I think what is essential is to realise that, despite all the difficulties, were going to make progress. Were determined to do that no matter what events are happening, or how many times extremists try to de-rail this process We are determined to make progress, we are determined to see a situation in which the wishes of the vast majority of people to see stability and peace and the chance to live in harmony together are realised. Even though, in this past period of time, as always with the process in Northern Ireland there have been tremendous difficulties, I remain of one mind. It is for ourselves and the Irish Government, with the other parties in this process, to make sure that we give effect to the wishes of the vast majority of people to get a lasting, good political settlement that is acceptable to all sides of the community in Northern Ireland.Taoiseach:There is no doubt about it – the last number of weeks have been difficult. There have been strains and stresses on the Peace Process. But as the PM has stated, we and the two Governments are going to continue to move things forward. All the Parties are anxious that we do that and they know that this is the only opportunity of having a viable alternative to the thirty years of violence and stress and bitterness and hatred. I believe that with the co-operation of the Parties, with the total co-operation and the driving force of the two Governments, that we can achieve a settlement dealing with all of the issues that are being worked through in the various strands over the last number of months and the basis of an agreement is there and what we require is concentration by everybody and we will lead that from the two governments.

18 May, 1998

Press conference given by Tony Blair, President Clinton and President Santer, Monday 18 May 1998 Prime Minister:Can I first of all set out what I believe that we have achieved at this summit, and then ask the President of the European Commission, and finally the President of the United States to speak to you. As you know, there have been for some years serious differences over what for the US is sanctions policy and for the EU is extra-territoriality. And what we have established today is at least a basis for a lasting solution to these problems. We have avoided a showdown over sanctions, with which we dont agree, and we have done it in a way that at least provides the chance of a solution to the problem in the future. And the President of the United States will set out the US position in a moment. So there is still more work to do, but it is a real step forward.In addition, today we have launched a major new transatlantic trade initiative, the Transatlantic Economic Partnership, which will further add momentum to the process of developing what is already the most important bilateral trade relationship in the world. We have also agreed to work ever more closely together to promote multilateral trade liberalisation.Finally, we have welcomed the very substantial report presented to us by our senior officials on the progress achieved since our last summit towards further implementation of the 1995 new Transatlantic Trade Agreement. Some examples of this are: co-operation to prevent drug smuggling through the Caribbean; a joint decision to give awards to those in central and eastern Europe who have helped in recent years to entrench democracy and civil rights in those countries; and a joint EU/US programme in the Ukraine and Poland to warn women of the dangers of being lured into the sex trade in western Europe.So there are a series of measures that we have put together and agreed and we have made substantial progress on both the issues of sanctions and extra-territoriality, and of course in taking forward our trade partnership through a major new trade initiative, and I am delighted to be able to make those announcements to you today.Mr Santer:Ladies and Gentlemen, our summit today is the 6th between the European Union and the United States since the adoption of the new transatlantic agenda. These summits are becoming more and more important with the development of the transatlantic relationship. The brace of issues we covered today and the substantial agreements we came too, prove how worthwhile these meetings now are.The 1995 New Transatlantic agenda has led to much more intenseco-operation across the Atlantic. It is not just a question of warm words, but complete agreements. For example todays signature of the Mutual Recognition Agreement offers real benefits to business and consumers on both sides of the Atlantic. Todays summit is particularly important because we and the United States have struck a deal on US sanctions laws. This agreement, after weeks of intense negotiations with the US Administration, finally brings peace in this long-standing dispute. The European Union has opposed United States sanctions laws on investment in Iran, Libya and Cuba, not only because we believe they were illegal, but also because they were counter-productive. We in Europe have always taken very seriously the fight to curb terrorism and the spread of weapons of mass destruction. But the US sanctions laws made our co-operation on these issues more, rather than less difficult.The deal today means that European companies and businessmen can conduct their business without the threat of US sanctions hanging over their heads. It is a deal that is good for European companies who now have protection from US sanctions, it is a deal that is good for the European Union which has shown that it can act together, united in important foreign policy issues, and it is good for the transatlantic relationship which can now develop further free of this long-standing dispute.There are obviously still some further steps that need to be taken before the deal can be completely implemented, but I am hopeful that these will be concluded as soon as possible. By getting rid of the biggest problem in our relationship with the United States, the door is now open to further deepen and enhance our co-operation across the Atlantic.Today at the summit we agreed to a substantial new initiative to deepen the trade relationship called the Transatlantic Economic Partnership, and this initiative firstly addresses the further removal of barriers in our bilateral trade, it also says that the United States and the European Union will work together to achieve a substantial further trade liberalisation on a multilateral basis. Todays agreement will add to the prosperity of both the United States and the European Union and more generally in the world. It will thus create better prospects for future jobs.President Clinton, Prime Minister Tony Blair and I will be in Geneva to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the GATT, an organisation which has contributed so much to the stability and prosperity of the post-war world. Our agreement this morning sends a powerful message of transatlantic support to that meeting, and to the further development of multilateral liberalisation.But of course todays summit, as is usual on these occasions, was also an opportunity to discuss many key foreign policy issues, including Turkey, Cyprus, Kosovo and Ukraine. On the Ukraine we agreed to call upon the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development to play its part in the implementation of the Memorandum of Understanding on Nuclear Safety concluded between the G7 and the Ukraine.In conclusion, this summit has placed the transatlantic relationship on an even stronger footing. We can now look forward to an even deeper partnership in the future.President Clinton:Thank you very much. I would like to begin by thanking Prime Minister Blair for the creative and strong leadership that he has provided to the European Union and to the US/EU partnership. And I thank President Santer for his years of work for European unity. America welcomes a strong partnership with a strong and united Europe, to improve the lives of security, the well-being of our own people and others around the world.The EU, as I am sure all of you know, is Americas largest trade and investment partner. Two-way trade supports more than 6 million jobs on both sides of the Atlantic. Today I am very pleased that we have agreed to new steps to strengthen that economic partnership. First, we will work to dismantle trade barriers, both bilateral and multilateral trade barriers, in areas such as manufacturing, services and agriculture, about a dozen in all, while maintaining the highest standards of labour and environment.Let me also say that we have agreed in this effort that we will make an effort to give all the stakeholders in our economic lives, environmental stakeholders, labour stakeholders, other elements of civil society, a chance to be heard in these negotiations, in these discussions, and I believe that is a new paradigm which ought to be mirrored in trade negotiations throughout the world. Indeed, as President Santer has said, when we conclude here I am going to Geneva where I will speak about how we can work together to strengthen the world trading system on the occasion of its 50th anniversary. And I will argue that the WTO ought to embrace the kind of things that we and the EU have agreed to do here – give all the stakeholders a role and to do a better job of respecting the importance of preserving the environment and of making sure trade works for the benefit of all the people in all the countries involved.I am also pleased that we have reached agreement today, as the Prime Minister and President Santer have said, on an issue of vital importance to our own security and well-being. We share an interest in combating terrorism and limiting the spread of weapons of mass destruction. We understand always the problems with weapons of mass destruction but we are, I hope, all more sensitive to them in light of the recent events in South Asia.Here in London the EU countries have committed to enhance their cooperation with us with regard to Iran. They will step up efforts to prevent the transfer of technology that could be used to develop weapons of mass destruction. They have agreed to work towards the ratification of all 11 counter-terrorism conventions. We have agreed to cooperate in the development of Caspian energy resources. I would also like to emphasise that Russia too has taken important steps to strengthen controls over the export of sensitive technology, notably but not exclusively, to Iran, in effect establishing Russias first comprehensive catch-all export control system. We will be watching and working closely with the Russians to help make sure this system works.The actions taken by the EU and Russia advance Congresss objective in enacting the Iran/Libya Sanctions Act. It is not primarily a sanctions act, it is an act that is designed to give the incentives for all of us to work together to retard the spread of weapons of mass destruction and to support more aggressive efforts to fight terrorism. Therefore the waivers we have granted today are part of our overall strategy to deter Iran from acquiring weapons of mass destruction and promoting terrorism and it is an important new stage in our partnership.

We have also forged a path-breaking common approach to deter investment in illegally expropriated property around the world including, but not limited to, Cuba. Our governments will deny all forms of commercial assistance for these transactions, including loans, grants, subsidies, fiscal advantages, guarantees, political risk insurance. This understanding furthers the goals of protecting the property rights in Cuba and worldwide, advances the interest of US claimants and protects US investors, and thus so far more effectively than the United States could have done alone. It also furthers, as the Prime Mnister said, and as President Santer did, the objectives of the European Union and getting away from the unilateral sanctions regime.

We have finally agreed to work together with Russia to strengthen nuclear safety. This is also very important, especially with regard to nuclear waste removal and storage in north-west Russia. We will act together to encourage Ukraine to embark on bold economic reform and to speed the closure of the Chernobyl reactors that threaten safety and health.

Let me finally add that today we will honour 50 exceptional individuals from Europes new democracies for their work in helping freedom take strong root across the continent, I believe about half a dozen of them are here today. From protecting human rights in Belarus, to preserving the environment in Slovakia, these dedicated men and women, like so many others, are helping to make Europe free, peaceful, prosperous and united. I thank them, and again I thank the Prime Minister for his truly outstanding leadership.


All three of you have spoken of the economic benefits which could flow to Northern Ireland and in some cases you have announced specific packages. In view of the polls, which clearly show that the majority of the Unionist community have yet to be convinced, how conditional are those benefits on a convincing Yes vote in the referendum on Friday?

Prime Minister:

I dont think, Adam, anyone is trying to say that investment is conditional on how people vote, but what people are saying is it is a matter of common sense, if there is peace and stability in Northern Ireland, there is a far greater chance of attracting investment, that people from Europe, from the United States, from right round the world, see Northern Ireland as an immensely exciting investment opportunity, but obviously it is far easier for them to come and invest if they are investing in the context of peace and stability. I know that there are still people in Northern Ireland yet to make up their minds, and in the end the decision has got to be for people in Northern Ireland. But I have answered very clearly and specifically some of the questions that people have put to me, I have tried to tell people why it is so important that they recognise that the choice is not between the future that we have outlined in this agreement, which is the only chance I have seen of a peaceful successful future for Northern Ireland, and the status quos that exist now.

The danger that we foresee is that the realchoice is between the agreement and everything slipping back, and we want to do as much as we possibly can to avoid that because we recognise, as your question implies, that if we can get real peace and stability there then the chances for people in Northern Ireland are just amazing and we would like them to take advantage of that.

President Clinton:

I agree with that. There is no sort of quid pro quo here, it is just a fact that for example the Irish community in America, both Protestant and Catholic, which desperately wants to see an end to the troubles, will be more interested in trying to make sure that a courageous effort on behalf of peace by the people of Northern Ireland has a better chance to succeed by greater investment. I dont think there is any question about that.

I also would just say that I think that if the majority community, in any vote to change you might argue that the majority will always be willing to change because they are in the majority, they say well we have what we like now. But they dont have peace now, they dont have maximum prosperity now, and if you think about the next 10 -20 years, if I were an Irish Protestant – which I am – living in Northern Ireland instead of the United States, I would be thinking about my daughters future and her childrens future. And I would say if you look at the framework, this protects us no matter what happens to population patterns, no matter what happens to immigration patterns, no matter what happens we are all going to be able to be protected and have a role in the democracy of our country and I like that.

So, I am hoping that everyone will be thinking that way, thinking about the future, thinking about their children, and I think the risk of doing this is so much smaller than the risk of letting it blow apart, that I believe in the end a lot of the undecided voters will go in and vote their hopes instead of their fears.

Mr Santer:

The European Commission launched several years ago, as you remember, the Peace Programme and also for the reconciliation for Northern Ireland and the surrounding counties, and I was very impressed during my last trip to Northern Ireland several weeks ago how many people are working in the cross-community levels through these programmes, there are at this moment more than 11,000 applications of these programmes, more than 200,000 people of cross-community are working in these programmes and they are supporting from grassroot levels these peace and reconciliation programmes. Therefore I think we have to support also from an economic side this peace process, it is a long-standing process but nevertheless I think that through our structural fund programmes that people are coming closer together and the cross-border community are complying alsoto a lasting peace and I wanted also that it would happen on Friday and that we would also have the possibility to support it for the next time.


Mr President, Secretary Albright and Dennis Ross are here in London after the talks in Washington with Prime Minister Netanyahu. Has the Prime Minister softened his resistance to the American proposal for Israeli troop withdrawals, pull-backs from the West Bank. What will Secretary Albright take to the meeting today when she sees Yasser Arafat. Could you give us some kind of up-date on these talks?

President Clinton:

On a few occasions in the past I have given you an answer like this and I hope you will abide my having to do so again. The posture of the talks now is such that anything I say publicly to characterise the position taken by Mr Netanyahu or anybody else in the back and forth, would almost certainly reduce the chances of our being able to get an agreement which would move the parties to final status and reduce dramatically tensions in the region. So I think I should reaffirm what I said earlier today, the parties are working, they have been working hard, in my judgment they have been working in honest earnest good faith and we have our hopes, but I think it is important not to raise false hopes or to characterise the talks at this time, they are just in a period when anything we say publicly will increase the chances that we will fail. And if we get something we can say, believe me I would be the first one to the microphone, I would be very happy, but I think it is important not to do more than that now.


Mr President, we gather that it has not been all work today and that you are reported to have introduced our Prime Minister to the mysteries of golf. How did he do?

President Clinton:

There is a golf course across the street from Chequers and the first nine holes were part of the Chequers estate until 1906, so it is at least 100 years old, the first 9 holes. So this morning I got up early and the Prime Minster went with me and we walked about four and a half holes of the golf course and he had never, he says mind you, that he had never hit a golf ball before in his life and he asked me to drive two balls off of every tee of these four holes that we played and that he would play the rest of the way in. So I taught him how to hold a club, how to stand, how to swing and it was embarrassing how good he was. And the guy that was going around with us was a 4 handicap, for those of you who play you know that is nearly scratch, he was very good, and he just couldnt believe that the Prime Minister was telling the truth that he had never hit a ball before. It was amazing. All I had to do was get him off the tee and he did very well, he three putted no greens, he two putted every green, all four greens, and he only just missed two shots. It was unbelievable. Either he is an unbelievable athlete or I have a career as a golf instructor after I leave the White House. One of the two things must be true.

Prime Minister:

Actually I am ashamed to say I havent played golf, but I had the best teacher I could possibly have, it is not everyone who can say he has been given golfing lessons by the President of the United States of America, but we will put it down to beginners luck – a bit like politics.


Mr President, have you or will you contact the Indian or Pakistani Prime Ministers concerning the nuclear programmes they are developing? What factors are you weighing in deciding whether to go ahead with your trip, planned for later this year, to those two countries? And did the understanding that you announced today on sanctions provide a new way through to resolving the dispute that you had up at the G8 on how to properly respond to India and Pakistans programmes?

President Clinton:

The answer to the latter question is no. The answer to the first two questions you ask is I would like to talk to the Pakistani Prime Minister just to reassure him of my support for a decision not to test, and my understanding of the difficulty of his position and what I think is the way out of this. I think Prime Minister Blair feels the same way.

I have made no decision about my travel plans, but keep in mind what we need here is a way to break out of this box, what we need here is a way for both the national aspirations for security and for standing on the part of the Indians, and the national aspirations for security and for standing on the part of the Pakistanis to be resolved in a way that is positive. This is indeed a very sad thing because it has the prospect of spreading not just to Pakistan but to others in a way that could reverse decades of movement away from the nuclear precipice, in ways that clearly will not increase the security of countries, no matter how many times they say over, and over, and over again they only want these weapons for defensive purposes. And so that is what we have to do and it is too soon for quick easy answers on that.

But, I can tell you that my view is we need, instead of saying we are not going to talk, we are not going to go here, we are not going to go there, what we really need to think of is you know Pakistan has been a good ally of ours, India has been arguably the most successful democracy in history in the last 50 years because they have preserved the democracy in the face of absolutely overwhelming diversity and difficulty and pressures internal and external, and they cant get along over Kashmir and they have some other tensions, and then their neighbours sometimes turn up the tensions a little bit. We have got to find a way out of this.

We cant have a situation where every country in the world that thinks it has a problem either in terms of its standing or its security believes that the way to resolve that is to put a couple of scientists in a laboratory and figure out how to conduct a nuclear explosion. That is not the right thing to do, but we have to find the right way, offer it and work it through with these folks and I think maybe we can.

But the answer to your question is I would like to talk to the Pakistani Prime Minister, not because I think I can pressure him into doing that, I dont think for a moment I can do that, but just because I would like to express my personal conviction about this in a way that I hope would allow them to think about it.

Mr. President, did you have a chance to talk about Turkey’s European case and related with that, the Cyprus question with Mr. Blair and the other world leaders?

President Clinton:

Yes I did and if I had any sense I would just stop there, that is an answer to your question!

I think you know what the United States believes in. The United States believes that there ought to be a path for Turkey to keep moving toward closer union with Europe. The United States supports the fact that Turkey and Greece are in NATO; the United States believes that there should be an honourable settlement to the Cyprus impasse because it and the other Aegean issues are keeping Turkey and Greece from being genuine allies and being generally available to spend their time, their energy and their resources promoting peace and development for their own people and being enormous stabilising forces in their respective regions of Europe so for me this is a very important thing.

To get there, I think we will have to proceed on many fronts at once and I think both the Turks and Greeks will have to make difficult decisions which I believe the European Union and I know the United States will strongly support but I don’t think we can solve one problem in isolation from the other; I think we have to move forward on all these problems – Cyprus, the Aegean, the jurisdiction of disputes, the role of Turkey in Europe’s future – but I think that both the Greeks and the Turks have a bigger interest in a comprehensive resolution – and I know the rest of us do – than it appears just from following daily events. We have got to resolve this.

Prime Minister:

Can I just add to that on behalf of the European Union that I agree entirely with what the President has just said and I think it is important to emphasise yet again that Europe wants a good and close relationship with Turkey; we want Turkey to feel included in the family of European nations, we have a deep concern over what has happened and is happening in Cyprus and we believe it is essential that we make progress in this area.

We know the difficulties that Turkey felt that it had following the Luxembourg Conclusions last year but I think we should and will redouble our efforts to give a very clear signal to Turkey about our proper and true intentions and also to do what we can to bring hope in the conflict in Cyprus.


Prime Minister and President Santer, Pakistan is complaining about the lack of response to India’s nuclear explosions, specifically at the G8 there was no call for sanctions, Britain and the European Union are not following the lead of the United States, Canada and Japan in calling for sanctions. Will Britain and the European Union impose sanctions on India for its nuclear explosions?

Mr. President, beyond words to Pakistan and beyond the possible delivery of those F16s that Pakistan has already paid for, what specific concrete steps will you take to reassure the Pakistanis that might convince them not to go ahead with their own nuclear test?

Prime Minister:

In respect of the first point, as the G8 statement made clear, obviously individual countries have their own individual positions vis-Ã -vis sanctions but do not underestimate two very clear points of agreement that were established in our G8 discussions.

The first is our condemnation of the Indian nuclear test. The second is our desire to see India integrate itself unconditionally into the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty process and I believe if we need to look at the way forward from here, it is not merely a question of expressing our dismay and concern – which I did personally to the Indian prime minister last Friday – it is also finding the best way forward from now and we expressed that very clearly at the G8 and I am sure that is the position of all of the European Union countries as well.

I think the most persuasive argument with Pakistan is to say very clearly to them that if India believes that it enhances its standing in the world by this action, it does not and all of us are deeply conscious of the threat and danger to the security of the world that nuclear testing poses so that is why I think it is important to see where we go from here and the statement of the G8, particularly in relation to the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, was both important and significant.

President Santer:

I only want to add first that the European Union will at the next European Ministerial Council on 25 May, next Monday, discuss relations of the European Union with India on the basis of the statement we made at the G8 meeting last weekend.

Secondly, speaking for the European Commission, about 80-90 per cent of our prgrammes are humanitarian programmes to India focusing on the poorest people of this country so I think that sanctions for these programmes – the humanitarian programmes – would not produce any deeper concern but we have to reflect on our attitude and a concerted attitude to India on the next occasion – on Monday.

President Clinton:

First of all, let me say that I think that it is important to point out that in addition to Japan, Canada and the United States, the Dutch, the Swedes announced that they intend to take economic actions and I believe there will be other European countries as well and everybody who was at the G8 said that there would be some impact on their relations with India as a result of this so I thought it was quite a strong statement and given the well-known positions of all the countries involved, I thought it was stronger than could have been predicted when we went in.

What I would hope we could work with the Pakistanis on are specific things that would allay their security concerns and also make it clear that there will be political and economic benefits over the long run to showing restraint here.

The Prime Minister mentioned one of the things that I think could really help us out of this conundrum which would be if India would say: “OK, now we are ready to sign the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty!” Pakistan has said in the past that if India signed, they would sign but again, I think somehow we have got to put this back on track.

Remember, it wasn’t very long ago that Argentina and Brazil had nuclear programmes and they just said: “We are not going to do this! We are not going to run the slightest risk that some future rift between ourselves would lead to some kind of explosion. We are not going to sink vast amounts of our national treasure into this when we have so many poor people in our country and we need this money freed up to other things; we are going to find other ways, No. 1, to take care of our security and No. 2, to consider ourselves and have others consider us great nations!” and I think it would be fair to say that both of them have succeeded very well.

I think it would be fair to say at least all of us that live in the Americas believe they are enormously important countries and think more of them, not less of them, because they gave up their nuclear weapons. They have vigorous militaries and they certainly feel themselves secure so we have to try to create that kind of condition under admittedly more difficult circumstances on the Indian sub-continent, that is the previous tensions between India and China, the previous tensions between India and Pakistan. I understand they are different but the fundamental fact is the same so that is what I am going to try to sell and whatever happens, every day I am President until I leave office in 2001, I am going to be working for this because I do not want to see us slip back. We are on the right track here in the world and we don’t want to turn back.


Mr. President, why is it that if you feel it so important to secure a “Yes” vote in Northern Ireland, you decided it would be counter-productive to visit Northern Ireland before the vote?

Prime Minister, are you concerned at opinion polls which suggest a slippage in the “Yes” vote amongst the Unionist community – there is one in two Northern Ireland newspapers today which you may be aware of which suggests that only 25 per cent of young Protestants who have never known anything but violence are prepared to vote “Yes”?

President Clinton:

Let me answer your question first because I think that your question to the Prime Minister is a far more important one.

I decided that I shouldn’t go first of all because I felt that I had just as good a chance to have my message heard if I did something like the interview the Prime Minister and I did with David Frost; it would be widely heard under circumstances that would not allow me to become the issue in the election for those that are opposed to this measure.

You have to understand what I believe. I believe that it is the voters who actually weigh the merits of the substance and think rationally about what the alternatives are if this fails and if it succeeds, will overwhelmingly vote “Yes”. I believe the voters who will vote “No” will be those who frankly don’t trust the other side and don’t feel that they can trust the other side and who therefore can get distracted and I did not want to be a distraction.

The second reason I didn’t want to do it is that a lot of the leaders in Northern Ireland didn’t think it would help. In my own experience I was the Governor of a state with not many more people than Northern Ireland had before I became President and there were several times when the President of another party came into my state. At one time, I remember in 1984, President Reagan was immensely popular in my state campaigning for my opponent; President Reagan got 62 per cent of the vote and I got 63 per cent of the vote so it had no impact.

I did not want to become the issue but I did want my commitment to the welfare of the people of Northern Ireland in both communities to be heard so I hope I made the right decision and I hope I was heard.

Prime Minister:

To answer your question, I think there is obviously still a tremendous amount of debate going on. The fears that people have on specific issues, I have addressed those fears each one of them and those fears really revolve round this question:

“Is it clear that if people want to take their seat in the Government of Northern Ireland or to benefit from any of the programmes on accelerated prisoner release or any of the rest of it, that they will have to have given up violence for good?”

The answer to that question is unequivocally yes. It is what the Agreement states and I have made it clear we will clarify that and make it clear in the legislation but beyond that, it is a decision that people are going to have to weigh in their own minds and the easiest thing in politics is simply to say “No”. The easiest thing in politics is to sit there and say: “Change is something I am afraid of and I am therefore just going to refuse it!” but I ask everyone who takes that attitude to reflect upon what the future holds if there is a “No” vote for this Agreement and all the way through this campaign I have tried to say to people in order to understand their fears: “Well what is the alternative to this Agreement?” because after all, what Unionism has fought for for 60/70 years has been the principle of consent and that principle is enshrined in terms in the Agreement. In return, fairness and equal treatment for people from whatever side of the community they come from. Those are principles everyone can accept. That is the Agreement, that is the alternative I take to the table.

I still don’t know what the alternative is on the other side and I just hope people reflect on that and really think about it because every generation gets its chances; this is the chance for this generation in Northern Ireland and we have all done our best to provide it for people but in the end it is their decision. I can’t make that decision for people, I can only tell them honestly what I believe and feel.


Mr. President, Microsoft has said that preventing it from distributing its “Windows 98” software would cripple the computer industry and slow US growth. Given the breakdown of talks over the weekend, do you now see a collision between Microsoft and the Justice Department as inevitable and do you concur with their assessment of the economic consequences?

President Clinton:

As you know, as a general principle I have taken the view that I should not comment on matters within the jurisdiction of the Justice Department that could be the subject of legal action. At this time, I do not think I should depart from that policy on this case even though it obviously will have a big impact on an important sector of our economy but I would have to say, based on what I know to date, I have confidence in the way the Anti-Trust Division of the Justice Department has handled the matter.

I want to reserve the right at some time in the future, if I think it is appropriate, to make a comment because this is not just an open-and-shut case of one party sues somebody else, this is something that will have a significant impact on our economy but I think that based on what I know I have confidence in the way the Anti-Trust Division has handled this and while it is pending, at this time I think I should stick with my policy and not comment.


It seems like every two or three years there is another statement by European and American leaders that there has been another major breakthrough in trade relations. Do you now, all three of you, think it is time to set a clear and firm objective of a full-scale free-trade agreement in goods, services and capital across the Atlantic?

Mr. President, I think we were struck by your repeated use of the word “stakeholders” in your comments upon the agreement that you have reached today. Does this have something to do with your discussions about the “third way” that you have been holding with Mr. Blair and is this now a key word in the process?

President Clinton:

The question of whether there should be a US/EU comprehensive trade negotiation is one more properly directed to the EU. The United States has supported the European Union and any devices, including the EMU, chosen by the leaders of it to achieve that union.

We have also supported the broadest possible trade relationship with Europe and as you know and is commonly known elsewhere, a similar relationship in Latin America and in the Asia Pacific region.

As you know, to make full disclosure I would have to have fast-track authority from the Congress to do some but not all of the things that we have contemplated in this Agreement. I would be for an even more sweeping one but I think to be fair, it is more difficult with all the other tensions and debates and unification going on in Europe, to get much further than we have gotten today and what we have agreed to do is very considerable indeed.

The question you ask about the stakeholders: I have always believed that our country, the United States, could not succeed in the end economically and socially at home in providing opportunity for everyone who is responsible to work for it and in having a community that is coming together instead of being torn apart, unless we maintained our level of engagement and involvement in the rest of the world. I have always believed we could not sustain our involvement in the rest of the world in trade and other areas unless the American people thought we were doing it in a way that was consistent with their values when it comes to basic working standards, basic living standards and preserving the global environment so what we have tried to do without prescribing the end is to set up a process here for our negotiation which will let all those folks into the trade debate and what I am going to argue for at the WTO is an even more sweeping example there but Sir Leon Brittan – I think he is here today – commented earlier this year that in the preamble to the WTO it said that sustainable development should be the goal of increasing global trade and that part of the trade agenda should be providing the means to preserve the environment and increasing the number of tools to do so. That is just one example.

Is it part of the so-called “third way”? I think you could say that but this is not something that came out of our dinner conversation last night, this is something Prime Minister Blair and I have long believed ought to be done, that we don’t exist as economic animals alone and in fact, if we don’t find a way to prove that increasing trade will lead to prosperity more broadly shared in all the countries with which we deal and will give us the tools to improve the environment, in the end our trade policies will prove self-defeating.

President Santer:

For our trade relations, I can only say that since we adopted the new Transatlantic Agenda in December 1995, we made huge progress a long way together and Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright, this morning made a list of all we have delivered since 1995; it is a very impressive list and now the way is coming how we can deepen these transatlantic partnership relations further and that we did this morning and this was a really major result also for the future.

We are the biggest world partnership, the United States and Europe, and we have balanced trade relations and we have also balanced foreign direct investments on both sides of the Atlantic and therefore it seems to me that it is very important that we strengthen and deepen these relations step by step for the future and that we make it very comprehensively but that is not to say that we would not have sometimes some difficulties. The partners always have some difficulties; I remember that also with the member states of the European Union in my daily life I have to deal with difficulties and even with our friends here, the Presidency, we are discussing the same problems in the agricultural field as we are discussing sometimes also with the United States so the thing is only in what spirit we are dealing with these problems and therefore I think we have to deal with that in a partnership-like spirit and that is the real sense and the depth of our partnership relations and therefore I think this summit – the sixth summit since 1995 – is a very important one and also gives a new direction.


Mr. President, with regard to Indonesia, Sir, do you anticipate using US forces to safeguard the lives of Americans in that country and would the United States be prepared to give Suharto asylum if it would help ease him from power?

President Clinton:

With regard to the first question, I have been given no indication that it is necessary at this time and with regard to the second, the prospect has not been presented.

As you probably know, just as we were fixing to come in here, there were all kinds of new stories which may or may not be accurate about very rapidly-unfolding developments in Indonesia and I expect that all of you may want to come back to me in two, three or four hours for comments on things that may be clearer then than they are now.

Let me just say again what I think the real issue is here. We want this country to come back together and not come apart. We want the military to continue to exercise maximum restraint so there will minimum loss of life and injury. We want civil society to flourish there.

We believed that Indonesia was heading for some tough times because there had to be some tough economic decisions taken no matter what government had been in but the absence of a sense of political dialogue and ownership and involvement obviously has contributed to the difficulties there and there has been the heartbreaking loss of life of all the people who burned to death for example.

What we are looking for now and what we are going to be working for is the restoration of order without violence and the genuine opening of a political dialogue that gives all parties a feeling they are part of it; they should decide, the Indonesia people, who the leader of Indonesia is and then we are going to do our best when things settle down and human needs are taken care of and there is order, to try to get them back on the road to economic recovery because all of us have a big interest in the future success of a country that has done some fabulous things in the last thirty years but it had a very bad few months here.

Prime Minister’s statement to Parliament concerning Iraq, Thursday 17 December 1998Madam Speaker, with permission I will make a statement on Iraq.Yesterday I authorised the participation of British forces in a substantial US-UK military strike against targets in Iraq. As the House knows, this attack began last night, maximising surprise through the use of sea-launched cruise missiles and precision bombing by navy-based manned aircraft. The operation is now continuing and, as I speak, British Tornado aircraft are engaged in action. I spoke to their commander last night and congratulated him on the bravery and professionalism of his forces. I know the whole House will join with me in wishing them well as they risk their lives to help ensure peace and stability in the Middle East and more widely. We are proud of them.Our policy has always been to seek genuine Iraqi compliance with the demands of the Security Council.The objectives of this military operation are clear and simple:* to degrade the ability of Saddam Hussein to build and use weapons of mass destruction, including command and control and delivery systems;
* to diminish the threat Saddam Hussein poses to his neighbours by weakening his military capability.These objectives are achievable and the action proportionate to the serious dangers Saddam Hussein poses to his immediate neighbours, the Middle East region and the international community more widely. The targets, throughout Iraq, have been very carefully selected to reflect these objectives. We are taking every possible care to avoid civilian casualties or damage to ordinary civilian infrastructure.The House will forgive me if I say no more about operational details at this stage. To go further could endanger the lives of those involved. But first reports from last night’s operations suggest that they were successful and inflicted the kind of military damage we were seeking.Madam Speaker, when I spoke to the House on 16 November, after we and the Americans had stayed our hand because of a written Iraqi promise of full co-operation with the UN weapons inspectors, I set out in some detail why we had come to the brink of military action. The House will forgive me if I once again set current events in their proper context. It is vital that people understand that the threat from Saddam is real, not theoretical.After the Gulf War had revealed the extent of Saddam’s arsenal, Iraq agreed in April 1991 to accept the destruction of all its weapons of mass destruction and not to develop such weapons in the future. They also agreed to a Special Commission to monitor and oversee this process. That was the price they were made to pay for the cessation of hostilities. The capability Saddam had at the time included: a nuclear weapons programme only a few years away from producing an effective bomb; long-range missile stocks able to threaten all his neighbours; a chemical weapons arsenal of huge proportions, which he had already used on the Iranians in the 10-year war he started on Iran, and on his own people; and a biological weapons programme capable of producing enough deadly toxins to destroy the population of the globe several times over.It was expected then that the Special Commission, together with the International Atomic Energy Agency, would complete this process in a few months. But it was not to be. What no-one fully foresaw at the time was the huge effort Iraq would put into blocking it. The inspectors have been constantly harassed, threatened, deceived and lied to. A special and elaborate mechanism to conceal Iraqi capability was put in place involving organisations close to Saddam Hussein, in particular his special Republican Guard.Despite this, UNSCOM achieved a huge amount, particularly after the defection of Saddam Hussein’s son-in-law, later murdered by Saddam, destroying for example more than 38,000 chemical weapon munitions, 48 Scud missiles and a biological weapons factory designed to produce up to 50,000 litres of anthrax, botulism toxin and other deadly agents. But much too much remains unaccounted for. Iraq has consistently sought to frustrate attempts to look at the records and destroy the remaining capability. And let us be clear. Saddam still has capability in this area, not least to develop more weapons in the future. To give only one example, over 610 tonnes of precursor chemicals for the nerve gas VX have not been found or accounted for.Meanwhile, Saddams conventional military capabilities remain at a very high level. He has more than one million men under arms, including 75,000 in the Republican Guard and 15,000 members of the Special Republican Guard. Saddam attaches importance to only one thing: his ability to dominate his people and his neighbours by military force. He wants to retain all the weapons he can, including weapons of mass destruction. He has used them before. I am in no doubt of his readiness to use them again if he has any opportunity. His brutality and ruthlessness are too well documented for there to be any doubt of this. The UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights issued a new report on Iraq in October. He documented massive and extremely grave violations of human rights, including the widespread and systematic use of torture, a new policy of penal mutilation and amputations introduced by Saddams son, Uday, and innumerable and illegal political executions.After the full extent of the weapons programme was uncovered in 1996 and early 1997, Saddam began to obstruct in real earnest. He cast doubt on the independence of the inspectors. He sought to exclude US and British members of UNSCOM. He sought to declare certain sites out of bounds, on the grounds that they were personal palaces. This led to a series of crises with the Security Council and the international community, and a recurring threat of force first in October 1997, when he eventually backed down, then in February this year. The House will recall that this was eventually resolved by the UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan going to Baghdad and concluding a binding Memorandum of Understanding with the Iraqis. In this, Saddam undertook to co-operate fully with UNSCOM and the IAEA, and confirmed that this meant immediate, unconditional and unrestricted access in conformity with Security Council Resolutions.But the pattern continued. Then Saddam broke altogether this agreement with Kofi Annan. In August he suspended co-operation and on 31 October ended it. That was why on 14 November I gave authority for British forces to participate in a US-UK strike against Iraq. That was only averted by another offer from Saddam. The Iraqis agreed in terms that spoke of, and I quote, a clear and unconditional decision of the Iraqi government to resume cooperation with UNSCOM and the IAEA. They said that quote: UNSCOM and the IAEA could immediately resume all their activities according to the relevant Resolutions of the Security Council.Let me remind you that these Resolutions call on Iraq to comply unconditionally with the demands of the Security Council to give up all its weapons of mass destruction, and to cooperate fully with UNSCOM and the IAEA. Resolution 707 of 15 August 1991, for example, passed after the first evidence of Iraqi non-compliance, demanded that Iraq should provide full, final and complete disclosure of aspects of its programmes to develop weapons of mass destruction, and that it should allow UNSCOM and the IAEA immediate, unconditional and unrestricted access to any and all areas, facilities, equipment, records, and means of transportation which they wish to inspect.There were some who thought we should have taken military action on 14 November. But, despite our severe doubts, we went that extra mile. We gave Saddam that last chance. Even at the risk to our own credibility, we were determined to avoid, if we responsibly could, the use of force. At the same time, we and the Americans also gave the clearest possible warning that, should Saddam break his word once more, there would be no further warnings or diplomatic arguments. I told the House on 16 November that if he again obstructed the work of the inspectors we would strike. No warnings. No wrangling. No negotiation. No last minute letters.President Clinton also set out what Saddam had to do: allow unfettered access for UNSCOM and the IAEA and abide by all the relevant Security Council Resolutions. Otherwise the US stood ready to act without further warning.Madam Speaker, Saddam Hussein is a man to whom a last chance to do right is just a further opportunity to do wrong. He is blind to reason. We were not unconscious of that, but we wanted to show that reason, not vengeance, motivated us. So, acting on the promise of unconditional access, Richard Butler was asked to put his inspectors back in immediately and carry out the full range of his tasks, and to report back to the Security Council. He said that he would do so within a month. On Monday, a month later, he did so. The report was very clear, and damning. Copies were placed in the House yesterday. Butler summarises UNSCOM’s experiences: limited co-operation in some areas, yes, but otherwise a clear pattern of obstruction over documents, access to Iraqi personnel, and above all the surprise inspections of suspect sites so vital to UNSCOM’s completion of its task. Co-operation has indeed been less good in some areas even than in the difficult times of the past.The evidence is clear, as set out by Butler. Important and relevant documents have not been handed over. Their existence has even been denied in many cases, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary. The documents are vital because they would reveal how many weapons Iraq had and has and where they are or may be located. We know that the Iraqis have deliberately destroyed as many of these documents as they can, including in the second half of November as UNSCOM was resuming its work.The Iraqis have also blocked legitimate inspections including one to the Baath Party Headquarters. This visit was not an idle provocation, but because there was reliable evidence of relevant material at the site. In another case, an inspection of the former Headquarters of the Special Security Organisation was eventually allowed to go ahead, but only after the building had been emptied not only of any relevant material, but also of its furniture and all equipment of any kind.Butler’s conclusion is clear and unequivocal. I quote: “In the light of this experience, that is, the absence of full co-operation by Iraq, it must regrettably be recorded again that the Commission is not able to conduct the substantive disarmament work mandated to it by the Security Council and, thus, to give the Council the assurances it requires with respect to Iraq’s prohibited weapons programmes”.Anyone who has followed at all the pattern of events in Iraq in recent years must come to the same inescapable conclusion. Whatever the arguments about particular incidents, Saddam’s attitude to the inspectors and their work cannot remotely be described as full co-operation. It has instead been as much deliberate obstruction as he thought he could get away with. Moreover he has also consistently sought in the last 18 months to use this obstruction deliberately to try to blackmail the international community into lifting sanctions a step which we support when he has complied with his obligations but which is quite unacceptable before he has done so, and while the threat remains.Madam Speaker, in these circumstances, we had a stark choice. Either we could let this process continue further, with UNSCOM more and more emasculated, including its monitoring capability, Saddam correspondingly free to pursue his weapon-making ambitions, and this one-sided and unjustified bargaining over sanctions continuing. Or, having tried every possible diplomatic avenue, and shown endless patience despite all Saddam’s deception, we could decide that if UNSCOM could not do its work, we should tackle Saddam’s remaining capability through direct action of our own. In these circumstances there is only one responsible choice to make.We are acting now because Butler’s report, delivered on time, was so clear. And because, if we were going to act, it was obviously better that we should do so without giving Saddam unnecessary time to prepare his defences, and disperse whatever he could to new locations. In particular, we were very sensitive to the imminence of Ramadan and very reluctant to have to start a military campaign during Ramadan, out of our respect for Muslim sentiments. On the other hand, waiting until after Ramadan would have given Saddam a month to prepare. It would have been highly risky in military terms, and likely to reduce significantly the effect of our attacks.I want to deal with one thing straight on.

There are suggestions that the timing of military action is somehow linked to the internal affairs of the United States. I refute this entirely. I have no doubt whatsoever that action is fully justified now. That is my strong personal view. I know that President Clinton reached the same conclusion for the same reasons. Had he acted differently, out of regard to internal matters of U.S. politics, that would have been a dereliction of his duty as President. Instead, not for the first time, he has shown the courage to do the right thing and he has my full support.

Madam Speaker, other questions arise about this military operation. Let me deal with some of them. Is it a specific objective to remove Saddam Hussein? The answer is it cannot be. No-one would be better pleased if his evil regime disappeared as a direct or indirect result of our action, but our military objectives are precisely those I have set out. Even if there was legal authority to do so, removing Saddam through military action would require the insertion of ground troops on a massive scale hundreds of thousands, as the British Chief of the Defence Staff, Sir Charles Guthrie, made clear this morning. Even then there would be no absolute guarantee of success. I cannot make that commitment responsibly.

What will happen once the military operation is over? The answer to that depends at least as much on Saddam as it does on us. I hope he will finally come to his senses and recognise that the only way to find support in the international community and light at the end of the tunnel is full compliance with the Security Council’s requirements. UNSCOM must remain ready to resume its work and to accomplish the task set by the Security Council and agreed to by the Iraqis.

Alternatively, if Saddam will not see reason, then after this military operation is concluded, we will work to ensure that Saddam’s weakened military capability cannot be rebuilt and that the threat he poses is fully contained. We have the ability to do so, even without UNSCOM if necessary. We will certainly be better placed after this military strike than if we had to go on dealing with a Saddam Hussein whose military capability had not been weakened and with an UNSCOM increasingly impeded from any serious work. We will maintain and enforce rigorously the existing sanctions. If necessary, and if we have serious evidence from our intensive surveillance, or from intelligence, that his capability is being rebuilt, we will be ready to take further military action. Saddam should have no doubt of our continuing resolve.

We will in any case do all we can to ensure that the present arrangements of oil sales for food and medicine can continue. I trust that this time Saddam will allow the mechanism to work properly, for the benefit of his people, rather spreading lies about the effect of sanctions. He has the means to care for his people if he chooses to use them. Let me be absolutely clear once again. The Iraqi authorities can import as much food and medicines as they need. If there are nutritional problems in Iraq, they are not the result of sanctions let us not forget that Iraq is continuing to export food to her neighbours. We also constantly look at ways we can do more to help the suffering of the Iraqi people, for example whenever we review the workings of the sanctions and oil for food regimes, and through our own aid effort.

Madam Speaker, the decision to take military action against Iraq was taken with great regret. It is a heavy responsibility. There will be casualties in Iraq, despite all our efforts, although I hope all concerned will be fully alert to Saddam’s very well-documented modus operandi of fabrication of evidence.

I am encouraged by the international reaction. Most of our allies have offered full support. Others who have felt unable to do so have shown their understanding. I believe that, among the Arab countries, the view expressed at their meeting in Doha in November, that Saddam must bear the responsibility for what happens, holds good.

As I said last night, we have absolutely no quarrel with the Iraqi people. We have no desire to jeopardise the territorial integrity of Iraq. We look forward to the day when Iraq will have the government its people deserve and will once again be a great country. We have the deepest respect for Islamic sensibilities, here and in the region. But we have acted because we must act to counter a real and present danger from a tyrant who has never hesitated to use whatever weapons come to hand.

Madam Speaker, I would rather that we had not had to do this. I am aware of the risks we are asking our forces to face. I do so, not lightly, but with a profound sense of responsibility.

But I do so confident they will achieve our aims, and convinced we have taken the right course of action. For whatever the risks we face today, they are as nothing compared to the risks if we do not halt Saddam Husseins programme of developing chemical and biological weapons of mass destruction.

I ask the House for its support.

Other 1998 speech transcripts

CHICAGO, 24 April, 1999

Prime Minister’s speech:

Doctrine of the International community at the Economic Club, Chicago24 April 1999

tb1999.jpgIt is a great pleasure to be here in Chicago this evening and addressing the Economic Club. My thanks to your Chairman, Phil Rooney, and your President, Grace Barry. My thanks too to Mayor Daley for your kindness in welcoming me here.I must start this evening by saying, on behalf of the British people, how saddened we are by the tragic events in Linleton on Tuesday. For us it brings back sad memories of a school tragedy of our own on 13 March 1996 in a small town called Dunblane in Scotland when 16 children and a teacher died in a hail of bullets. From us in Britain to you here in the United States: we offer you our deepest sympathy, our thoughts and our prayers.1 am absolutely delighted to be the first serving British Prime Minister to visit Chicago. I wanted to come here to the heart of this great country. To a great cosmopolitan city and the capital of middle America.Despite the absence of Prime Ministerial visits, there is a long British history with Chicago We set up our Consulate here in 1855.Marshall Field opened their first overseas buying office in Manchester in 1870. One of Field’s shop assistants subsequently opened his own store in London in 1909. His name was Harry Selfridge. He employed the same architect who designed your City Hall to build Selfridge’s, the landmark store on London’s Oxford Street.That sort of interchange goes on today too. Chicagoland is the headquarters of some of Britain’s most important inward investors: Motorola, Sara Lee, RR Donnelly. Nearly half the $124 billion US firms spent on foreign acquisitions last year went on British companies. We would like it to be even more.Nor is the traffic all one way. British investment in Illinois generates some 46,000 jobs, making us the biggest foreign investor in the State. And the London Futures Exchange is working alongside your Board of Trade and Mercantile Exchange to lead the revolution in electronic trading. The London Futures Exchange looks forward to receiving early CFTC approval for its system to be installed here.
KosovoWhile we meet here in Chicago this evening, unspeakable things are happening in Europe. Awful crimes that we never thought we would see again have reappeared – ethnic cleansing. systematic rape, mass murder.I want to speak to you this evening about events in Kosovo. But I want to put these events in a wider context – economic, political and security – because I do not believe Kosovo can be seen in isolation.No one in the West who has seen what is happening in Kosovo can doubt that NATO’s military action is justified. Bismarck famously said the Balkans were not worth the bones of one Pomeranian Grenadier. Anyone who has seen the tear stained faces of the hundreds of thousands of refugees streaming across the border, heard their heart-rending tales of cruelty or contemplated the unknown fates of those left behind, knows that Bismarck was wrong.This is a just war, based not on any territorial ambitions but on values. We cannot let the evil of ethnic cleansing stand. We must not rest until it is reversed. We have learned twice before in this century that appeasement does not work. If we let an evil dictator range unchallenged, we will have to spill infinitely more blood and treasure to stop him later.But people want to know not only that we are right to take this action but also that we have clear objectives and that we are going to succeed.We have five objectives: a verifiable cessation of all combat activities and killings; the withdrawal of Serb military, police and paramilitary forces from Kosovo; the deployment of an international military force, the return of all refugees and unimpeded access for humanitarian aid; and a political framework for Kosovo building on the Ramnbouillet accords. We will not negotiate on these aims. Milosevic must accept them.Through the air campaign, we have destroyed the greater part of Milosevic’s operational airforce; a quarter of his SAM radar systems – the rest do not operate for fear of being destroyed; his oil refineries and the lines of communication into Kosovo; his military infrastructure including his means of command and communication; and a good part of his ammunition dumps. The morale of the Yugoslav army is beginning to crack. And the KLA is now larger and has more support than when Milosevic started his campaign.We have always made clear this campaign will take time. We will not have succeeded until an international force has entered Kosovo and allowed the refugees to return to their homes. Milosevic will have no veto on the entry of this international force.Just as I believe there was no alternative to military action, now it has started I am convinced there is no alternative to continuing until we succeed. On its 50th birthday NATO must prevail. Milosevic had, I believe, convinced himself that the Alliance would crack. But I am certain that this weekend’s Summit in Washington under President Clinton’s leadership will make our unity and our absolute resolve clear for all to see. Success is the only exit strategy I am prepared to consider.We need to begin work now on what comes after our success in Kosovo. We will need a new Marshall plan for Kosovo, Montenegro, Macedonia, Albania and Serbia too if it turns to democracy. We need a new framework for the security of the whole of the Balkans. And we will need to assist the war crimes tribunal in its work to bring to justice those who have committed these appalling crimes.

This evening I want to step back and look at what is happening in Kosovo in a wider context

Global Interdependence

Twenty years ago we would not have been fighting in Kosovo. We would have turned our backs on it. The fact that we are engaged is the result of a wide range of changes – the end of the Cold War; changing technology; the spread of democracy. But it is bigger than that

I believe the world has changed in a more fundamental way. Globalisation has transformed our economies and our working practices. But globalisation is not just economic. It is also a political and security phenomenon.

We live in a world where isolationism has ceased to have a reason to exist. By necessity we have to co-operate with each other across nations.

Many of our domestic problems are caused on the other side of the world. Financial instability in Asia destroys jobs in Chicago and in my own constituency in County Durham. Poverty in the Caribbean means more drugs on the streets in Washington and London. Conflict in the Balkans causes more refugees in Germany and here in the US. These problems can only be addressed by international co-operation.

We are all internationalists now, whether we like it or not We cannot refuse to participate in global markets if we want to prosper. We cannot ignore new political ideas in other counties if we want to innovate. We cannot turn our backs on conflicts and the violation of human rights within other countries if we want still to be secure.

On the eve of a new Millennium we are now in a new world. We need new rules for international co-operation and new ways of organising our international institutions.

After World War II, we developed a series of international institutions to cope with the strains of rebuilding a devastated world: Bretton Woods, the United Nations, NATO, the FU. Even then, it was clear that the world was becoming increasingly interdependent. The doctrine of isolationism had been a casualty of a world war, where the United States and others finally realised standing aside was not an option.

Today the impulse towards interdependence is immeasurably greater. We are witnessing the beginnings of a new doctrine of international community. By this I mean the explicit recognition that today more than ever before we are mutually dependent, that national interest is to a significant extent governed by international collaboration and that we need a clear and coherent debate as to the direction this doctrine takes us in each field of international endeavour. Just as within domestic politics, the notion of community – the belief that partnership and co-operation are essential to advance self-interest – is coming into its own; so it needs to find its own international echo. Global financial markets, the global environment, global security and disarmament issues: none of these can he solved without intense international co-operation.

As yet, however, our approach tends towards being ad hoc. There is a global financial crisis: we react, it fades; our reaction becomes less urgent. Kyoto can stimulate our conscience about environmental degradation but we need constant reminders to refocus on it. We are continually fending off the danger of letting wherever CNN roves, be the cattle prod to take a global conflict seriously.

We need to focus in a serious and sustained way on the principles of the doctrine of international community and on the institutions that deliver them. This means:

1. In global finance, a thorough, far-reaching overhaul and reform of the system of international financial regulation. We should begin it at the G7 at Cologne.
2. A new push on free trade in the WTO with the new round beginning in Seattle this autumn.
3. A reconsideration of the role, workings and decision-making process of the UN, and in particular the UN Security Council.
4. For NATO, once Kosovo is successfully concluded, a critical examination of the lessons to be learnt, and the changes we need to make in organisation and structure.
5. In respect of Kyoto and the environment, far closer working between the main industrial nations and the developing world as to how the Kyoto targets can be met and the practical measures necessary to slow down and stop global warming, and
6. A serious examination of the issue of third world debt, again beginning at Cologne.

In addition, the EU and US should prepare to make real step-change in working more closely together. Recent trade disputes have been a bad omen in this regard. We really are failing to see the bigger picture with disputes over the banana regime or hushkits or whatever else. There are huge issues at stake in our co-operation. The EU and the US need each other and need to put that relationship above arguments that are ultimately not fundamental.

Now is the time to begin work in earnest on these issues. I know President Clinton will stand ready to give a lead on many of them. In Kosovo but on many other occasions, I have had occasion to be truly thankful that the United States has a President with his vision and steadfastness.


Globalisation is most obvious in the economic sphere. We live in a completely new world. Every day about one trillion dollars moves across the foreign exchanges, most of it in London. Here in Chicago the Mercantile Exchange and the Chicago Board of Trade contracts worth more than $1.2 billion per day.

Any Government that thinks it can go it alone is wrong. If the markets don’t like your policies they will punish you.

The same is true of trade. Protectionism is the swiftest road to poverty. Only by competing internationally can our companies and our economics grow and succeed. But it has to be an international system based on rules. That means accepting the judgements of international organisations even when you do not like them. And it means using the new trade round to be launched at Seattle to extend free trade.

The international financial system is not working as it should. The Asian financial crisis of last year, and the knock on impact on Brazil, demonstrate that.

The fact is that the Bretton Woods machinery was set up for the post war world. The world has moved on. And we need to modernise the international financial architecture to make it appropriate for the new world.

The lesson of the Asian crisis is above all that it is better to invest in countries where you have openness, independent central banks, properly functioning financial systems and independent courts, where you do not have to bribe or rely on favours from those in power.

We have therefore proposed that we should make greater transparency the keystone of reform. Transparency about individual countries’ economic policies through adherence to new codes of conduct on monetary and fiscal policy; about individual companies’ financial positions through new internationally agreed accounting standards and a new code of corporate governance; and greater openness too about IMF and World Bank discussions and policies.

We also need improved financial supervision both in individual countries through stronger and more effective peer group reviews, and internationally through the foundation of a new Financial Stability Forum. And we need more effective ways of resolving crises, like that in Brazil. The new contingent credit line at the IMF will assist countries pursuing sensible economic reforms and prevent damaging contagion. But we should also think creatively about how the private sector can help to resolve short-term financial crises.

Secretary Rubin and Chancellor Gordon Brown both put forward ideas yesterday. They highlighted the progress already made on improving transparency and in developing internationally agreed standards, particularly for the financial sector. But both identified the key challenges going forward, including how to involve the private sector in the prevention and resolution of crises. G7 Finance Ministers will be discussing these issues next week. I want to see agreement on the key outstanding questions reached by the Cologne Summit.

I hope the Summit will go further too in the case of Russia. We simply cannot stand back and watch that great nation teeter on the brink of ruin. If it slides into the abyss, it will affect all of us. A democratic, outward looking, prosperous Russia is of key importance to the West. We must not let our current differences set us on a route towards the mutual hostility and suspicion which has too often characterised our relationship in the past.

I very much hope that Russia and the IMF can reach an early agreement on a new programme to provide macro-economic stability, avoid hyper-inflation and encourage Russian companies and savers to keep their own money in the country. This however will only be a first step. I want to see a wider dialogue between Russia and the G7 focussing on all of the structural and legal reforms that are needed to improve the economic prospects for ordinary Russians. Russia is a unique economy with its own special problems and its own unique potential. We all need to build on the lessons of the last few years and develop a long term strategy for reform that respects Russia’s history, her culture and her aspirations. If Russia is prepared, with our understanding and co-operation, to take the difficult economic action it needs to reform its economy – to build a sound and well-regulated financial system, to restructure and close down bankrupt enterprises to develop and enforce a clear and fair legal system and to reduce the damage caused by nuclear waste – the G7 must be prepared to think imaginatively about how it can best support these efforts.

We will be putting forward concrete ideas on how to do this at the Cologne Summit – by opening up our markets to Russian products. by providing technical advice and sharing our expertise with the Russians, by providing support both bilaterally and through the 1MF. the World Bank and the other lEls and the Paris Club for the Russian reform efforts.

I believe passionately that we will all benefit hugely from a thriving Russia making use of its immense natural resources, its huge internal market and its talented and weIl-educated people. Russia’s past has been as a world power that we felt confronted by We must work with her to make her future as a world power with whom we co-operate in trust and to mutual benefit.

International Security

The principles of international community apply also to international security.

We now have a decade of experience since the end of the Cold War. It has certainly been a less easy time than many hoped in the euphoria that followed the collapse of the Berlin Wall. Our armed forces have been busier than ever – delivering humanitarian aid, deterring attacks on defenceless people, backing up UN resolutions and occasionally engaging in major wars as we did in the Gulf in 1991 and are currently doing in the Balkans.

Have the difficulties of the past decade simply been the aftershocks of the end of the Cold War? Will things soon settle down, or does it represent a pattern that will extend into the future?

Many of our problems have been caused by two dangerous and ruthless men – Saddam Hussein and Slobodan Milosevic. Both have been prepared to wage vicious campaigns against sections of their own community. As a result of these destructive policies both have brought calamity on their own peoples. Instead of enjoying its oil wealth Iraq has been reduced to poverty, with political life stultified through fear. Milosevic took over a substantial, ethnically diverse state, well placed to take advantage of new economic opportunities. His drive for ethnic concentration has left him with something much smaller, a ruined economy and soon a totally wined military machine

One of the reasons why it is now so important to win the conflict is to ensure that others do not make the same mistake in the future. That in itself will be a major step to ensuring that the next decade and the next century will not be as difficult as the past. If NATO fails in Kosovo, the next dictator to be threatened with military force may well not believe our resolve to carry the threat through.

At the end of this century the US has emerged as by far the strongest state. It has no dreams of world conquest and is not seeking colonies. If anything Americans are too ready to see no need to get involved in affairs of the rest of the world. America’s allies are always both relieved and gratified by its continuing readiness to shoulder burdens and responsibilities that come with its sole superpower status. We understand that this is something that we have no right to take for granted, and must match with our own efforts. That is the basis for the recent initiative I took with President Chirac of France to improve Europe’s own defence capabilities.

As we address these problems at this weekend’s NATO Summit we may be tempted to think back to the clarity and simplicity of the Cold War. But now we have to establish a new framework. No longer is our existence as states under threat. Now our actions are guided by a more subtle blend of mutual self interest and moral purpose in defending the values we cherish. In the end values and interests merge. If we can establish and spread the values of liberty, the rule of law, human rights and an open society then that is in our national interests too. The spread of our values makes us safer. As John Kennedy put it “Freedom is indivisible and when one man is enslaved who is free?”

The most pressing foreign policy problem we face is to identify the circumstances in which we should get actively involved in other people’s conflicts. Non -interference has long been considered an important principle of international order. And it is not one we would want to jettison too readily. One state should not feel it has the right to change the political system of another or forment subversion or seize pieces of territory to which it feels it should have some claim. But the principle of non-interference must be qualified in important respects. Acts of genocide can never be a purely internal matter. When oppression produces massive flows of refugees which unsettle neighbouring countries then they can properly be described as “threats to international peace and security”. When regimes are based on minority rule they lose legitimacy – look at South Africa.

Looking around the world there are many regimes that are undemocratic and engaged in barbarous acts. If we wanted to right every wrong that we see in the modern world then we would do little else than intervene in the affairs of other countries. We would not be able to cope.

So how do we decide when and whether to intervene. I think we need to bear in mind five major considerations

First, are we sure of our case? War is an imperfect instrument for righting humanitarian distress; but armed force is sometimes the only means of dealing with dictators. Second, have we exhausted all diplomatic options? We should always give peace every chance, as we have in the case of Kosovo. Third, on the basis of a practical assessment of the situation, are there military operations we can sensibly and prudently undertake? Fourth, are we prepared for the long term? In the past we talked too much of exit strategies. But having made a commitment we cannot simply walk away once the fight is over; better to stay with moderate numbers of troops than return for repeat performances with large numbers. And finally, do we have national interests involved? The mass expulsion of ethnic Albanians from Kosovo demanded the notice of the rest of the world. But it does make a difference that this is taking place in such a combustible part of Europe.

I am not suggesting that these are absolute tests. But they are the kind of issues we need to think about in deciding in the future when and whether we will intervene.

Any new rules however will only work if we have reformed international institutions with which to apply them.

If we want a world ruled by law and by international co-operation then we have to support the UN as its central pillar. But we need to find a new way to make the UN and its Security Council work if we are not to return to the deadlock that undermined the effectiveness of the Security Council during the Cold War. This should be a task for members of the Permanent Five to consider once the Kosovo conflict is complete.

This speech has been dedicated to the cause of internationalism and against isolationism. On Sunday, along with other nation’s leaders, including President Clinton, I shall take part in a discussion of political ideas. It is loosely based around the notion of the Third Way, an attempt by centre and centre-left Governments to re-define a political programme that is neither old left nor 1980s right. In the field of politics, too, ideas are becoming globalised. As problems become global – competitivity, changes in technology, crime, drugs, family breakdown – so the search for solutions becomes global too. What amazes me, talking to other countries’ leaders, is not the differences but the points in common. We are all coping with the same issues: achieving prosperity in a world of rapid economic and technological change; social stability in the face of changing family and community mores; a role for Government in an era where we have learnt Big Government doesn’t work, but no Government works even less.

Certain key ideas and principles are emerging. Britain is following them. It is one of the things that often makes it difficult for commentators to define the New Labour Government. We are parodied as either being Mrs Thatcher with a smile instead of a handbag; or as really old-style socialists in drag, desperate to conceal our true identity. In reality, we are neither. The political debates of the 20th century – the massive ideological battleground between left and right – are over. Echoes remain, but they mislead as much as they illuminate.

Let me summarise the new political agenda we stand for:

1. Financial prudence as the foundation of economic success. In Britain, we have eliminated the massive Budget deficit we inherited; put in new fiscal rules; granted Bank of England independence – and we’re proud of it.
2. On top of that foundation, there is a new economic role for Government. We don’t believe in laissez-faire. But the role is not picking winners, heavy handed intervention, old-style corporatism, but: education, skills, technology, small business entrepreneurship. Of these, education is recognised now as much for its economic as its social necessity. It is our top priority as a Government.
3. We are reforming welfare systems and public services. In Britain, we are introducing measures to tackle failing schools and reform the teaching profession that would have been unthinkable by any Government even a few years ago. Plus big changes to the NHS. For the first two years of this Government, welfare bills have fallen for the first time in two decades.
4. We are all tough on crime, tough on the causes of crime. The debate between “liberals” and “hardliners” is over. No one disputes the causes of crime. In particular social exclusion – a hardcore of society outside its mainstream – needs a special focus. We won’t solve it just by general economic success. But we don’t excuse crime either. Criminals get punished. That’s justice. Fairness.
5. We are reinventing or reforming Government itself. The Government machine is being overhauled. Here, Al Gore has led the way. But the whole basis of how we deliver Government services is being altered.

For Britain. there is a special dimension to this.

We are modernising our constitution. We have devolved power to a new Parliament in Scotland and a new Assembly in Wales. We are handing power back to local government, because we believe that power should be exercised as close as possible to the people it affects. We have introduced the concept of elected Mayors which, strange as it may seem to you here in Chicago, has not existed in the past in Britain. The first election for a Mayor of London will take place next year. And we are removing the constitutional anomalies from the past, like hereditary peers voting on legislation, that have proved too difficult to tackle previously.

We also want to change the way in which Northern Ireland is governed, and let me say something on this.

We have made great progress in bringing peace to Northern Ireland. The Good Friday Agreement last year was a breakthrough. We have to make one last heave to get over the one remaining obstacle, so that we can establish the executive and the North/South bodies and hand over power to the elected Assembly. The stand off on decommissioning cannot be allowed to de-rail the process when we have come so far. Bertie Ahern, the Irish Taoiseach, and I are determined to find a way through. The people will never forgive the politicians unless we resolve it.

And I would like to thank President Clinton and the Irish American community in the US for the great contribution they have made to coming this far. I know you will assist us again in the final straight.

And the final thing we all have in common, the new centre, centre-left Governments, is we are internationalists and that returns me to my original theme.

For Britain, the biggest decision we face in the next couple of decades is our relationship with Europe. For far too long British ambivalence to Europe has made us irrelevant in Europe, and consequently of less importance to the United States. We have finally done away with the false proposition that we must choose between two diverging paths – the Transatlantic relationship or Europe. For the first time in the last three decades we have a government that is both pro-Europe and pro-American. I firmly believe that it is in Britain’s interest, but it is also in the interests of the US and of Europe.

Being pro-Europe does not mean that we are content with the way it is. We believe it needs radical reform. And I believe we are winning the battle for economic reform within the EU. Two weeks ago the Conservative Spanish Prime Minister and I issued a joint Declaration on economic reform. Shortly, the German Social Democratic Chancellor Schroeder and I will be issuing a declaration on the same subject. We all understand the need to ensure flexible labour markets, to remove regulatory burdens and to untie the hands of business if we are going to succeed. The tide of Euro-sclerosis has begun to turn: the Third Way in Europe as much as in Britain.

As to Britain and the Euro, we will make our decision not on political grounds but on the basis of our national economic interests. We must however ensure that we are ready to enter if we make the decision to do so. And the government has put a national changeover plan in place to convert sterling that will make that possible if we decide to do so.

I also pledge that we will prevent the European Union becoming a closed fortress. Europe must he a force for openness and free trade. Indeed it is fundamental to my whole thesis tonight that we can only survive in a global world if we remove barriers and improve co-operation.


This has been a very broad-ranging speech, but maybe the time is right for that. One final word on the USA itself. You are the most powerful country in the world, and the richest. You are a great nation. You have so much to give and to teach the world; and I know you would say, in all modesty, a little to learn from it too. It must be difficult and occasionally irritating to find yourselves the recipient of every demand, to be called upon in every crisis, to be expected always and everywhere to do what needs to be done. The cry ‘What’s it got to do with us’ must be regularly heard on the lips of your people and be the staple of many a politician running for office.

Yet just as with the parable of the individuals and the talents, so those nations which have the power, have the responsibility. We need you engaged. We need the dialogue with you. Europe over time will become stronger and stronger; but its time is some way off.

I say to you: never fall again for the doctrine of isolationism. The world cannot afford it. Stay a country, outward-looking, with the vision and imagination that is in your nature. And realise that in Britain you have a friend and an ally that will stand with you, work with you, fashion with you the design of a future built on peace and prosperity for all, which is the only dream that makes humanity worth preserving.


Speech by the Prime Minister Tony Blair at the Outpatient Seminar, 13 October 1999

When you ask patients what they think is wrong with the NHS, what tops the list every time is the amount of time spent waiting. Waiting for a doctor’s appointment, in casualty, for test results, for an appointment with a consultant or for an operation.Most people are happy with their treatment when they receive it, but get frustrated with the length of time they have to wait.That is why as a symbol of our intention to reduce all forms of waiting we put forward our pledge at the last election. Let me remind you of it: ‘To cut waiting lists by treating an extra 100,000 patients – as a first step by releasing £100m saved from NHS red tape.’We are well on the way to meeting that pledge. We have saved the £100m from red tape. In fact we have saved more than that – £240 million so far.And waiting lists are now 60,000 lower than when we took office. This pledge is important. It will be delivered.I know that some people think it was a foolish pledge. But to those in any doubt, the length of waiting lists does matter. If you are waiting to get through a turnstile into a football ground or through a supermarket checkout you go to the one with the shortest queue!Where people are right is in saying that waiting times are also vital. How long you wait in the queue is a key concern for people. Our waiting list initiative has cut average waiting times – as well as the numbers waiting.But reducing waiting lists is only one part of our strategy for reducing waiting in all its forms in the NHS.We have set up NHS Direct to provide instant health advice round the clock.The new NHS walk-in centres we announced in July – 19 of them and with more on the way – will make it easier for people who find it hard to get to their GP during normal surgery hours, to get health care when they need it.The £100 million we are spending modernising Accident and Emergency departments will help cut waiting in casualty.But there is more to do. You have come here today as GPs, managers, consultants, health professionals and patients to help us improve our performance on outpatient waiting times.There is no more anxious time than waiting to see a consultant to find out what is wrong with you and whether you will need an operation. You are people with hands-on experience of cutting through delays.The first thing to say is that three-quarters of people get an outpatient appointment within 13 weeks of their GP requesting one. In fact the average time you wait to see a consultant is just over seven weeks.But the numbers waiting over 13 weeks have been growing. Some people allege that this is because we are deliberately making people wait longer for an outpatient appointment, in order to slow up the rate at which patients get referred for operations and so keep down the length of in-patient waiting lists.That is just plain wrong. Last year – a year when a record extra half a million patients were treated in hospital – the NHS also dealt with a record number of outpatients, including an extra 175,000 new outpatients. So we are treating more new outpatients as well as cutting waiting lists.

The problems with long out patient waits are much more deep-seated.

Although the NHS is seeing more outpatients than ever before, patients are being referred to consultants is faster than the rate at which they are being seen. We need to understand why this is and whether we are dealing with this rising demand in the best way.

There are four main specialities where long waiting times are a particular problem: orthopaedics; ear, nose and throat, opthamology and dermatology.
Today we will hear how some parts of the NHS have successfully addressed these problem areas and what lessons we can learn.

It is unacceptable that some hospitals and GPs are far less efficient at dealing with outpatient appointments than others. This is something we must change.

So we have a big agenda. It will take time to sort out. But we have already made a good start.

This year we expect hospitals to provide an extra third of a million first outpatient appointments. Backed by £30 million from the NHS Modernisation Fund, over 11 million new outpatients seen for the first time.

We are introducing booked appointments across the NHS. Pre-booking appointments is both more convenient for patients and helps to cut waiting.

The National Patients Action Team is visiting GPs and hospitals to spread new and better ways of working and helping to reduce outpatient waiting in the same way it has done for inpatient waiting.

And for cancer, where speed of diagnosis can be so important, we are making sure that everyone who needs to be seen urgently has an appointment within two weeks. Over 15,000 women suspected of having breast cancer have already benefited from this service since it was introduced in April.

During the year 2000, the two-week standard will cover all other cancers. Delivering this will be a challenge for the NHS. So today I can announce that we are publishing new guidelines and providing an extra £10 million to help GPs and hospitals prepare for this improved service.

So work is in hand to cut outpatient waiting times. But we need to do more. We must monitor our performance on outpatients as rigorously as on inpatients. And the best practice of some must be applied everywhere.

But Ministers and Government have not got all the answers. We need your help. We want the enthusiasm and ideas of NHS staff so that together we can provide the sort of prompt convenient service the public wants.

Other 1999 Speech transcripts


Speech by the Prime Minister at St Thomas’ Hospital, London, on Modernisation of Accident and Emergency Facilities29 February 2000

I am delighted to be here today to open formally this million pound upgrading of St Thomas’ Accident and Emergency facilities – completed on time and to budget.As a result of the modernisation, this hospital now has new areas for receiving and assessing patients and for treating minor conditions. It also has improved facilities for treatment, resuscitation, mental health assessment and – I am pleased to see – staff. It also has an impressive state of the art digital radiology system. And later this year a new medical assessment unit for GP admissions will be built.It will provide the people of this part of south London with the modern high class A&E services they need and deserve. The facilities you have here rank alongside the best Emergency Rooms in the US.As important is the fact that what is happening here is happening elsewhere in the country. The £115 million modernisation programme which we announced last year is now producing results. Over a quarter of the 244 Accident and Emergency modernisation schemes in 182 hospitals are now complete. Half will be finished by the end of April and all bar a handful will be done and dusted by the end of the year.This is a huge achievement. Every casualty department that needed it – that’s three-quarters of the total – modernised. NHS casualty departments in their history have never had the benefit of a programme on this scale.Like the scheme here the projects elsewhere include new special areas for children, better links between A&E and primary care, improved safety and security for staff and patients, faster access to diagnostic facilities and more assessment and observation wards.This is real money spent on real projects to benefit real patients. You can touch it. You can see it.Don’t believe all that you read in the papers or hear on the radio about health care. I know there is a long way to go – but there is a real change and improvement in many parts of the NHS.The NHS is building more new hospitals than it has ever done. 20 are under construction and 17 more are in the pipeline. The first ones open later this year. Another big achievement that will start to transform the face of the NHS.It’s the same with cancer equipment. With money from the NHS and the National Lottery we are funding over the next three years nearly 500 items of the most modern equipment to diagnose and treat cancer – mammography and ultrasound machines, linear accelerators and scanners.And we are getting in more staff too. Yesterday Alan Milburn announced the results of the latest nurse census. There were 4,500 more qualified midwives and nurses in 1999 than there were in 1998 – equivalent to an extra 3,000 full-time nursing and midwifery staff.It is the second year running that the numbers have risen and it is the biggest recorded rise for seven years. And since we came into government the number of full-time nurses has increased by over 4,000. Nurses are returning to the NHS – some of them are here today.There are more nurse training places – over 4,000 of them. More doctors – over 2,000 of them. And there will be more medical students – 1,000 of them.I could go on. True figures. Not invented statistics.The extra money that we have put into the health service is beginning to make a difference.But extra investment and more staff are not by themselves enough. We need modernisation too. Money and modernisation are two sides of the same coin. In this government’s reform of the public services you cannot separate them. Modernisation requires money. But money without modernisation is money not well spent.

Take A&E as an example. We are getting the modern facilities. Now we need the modern ways of working to go with the modernised departments.

I was pleased to hear that as part of designing your new A&E department you examined your working practices to see what changes were needed to make the most of the new investment and to improve things for patients.

So now you are making more use of emergency nurse practitioners in the minor treatment areas. You have someone to oversee the way beds are allocated and managed so that patients get into the right bed more quickly. And you have improved your working arrangements with social services so that when patients who are ready to go home but need some support they can be discharged without delay.

That is exactly what I mean by money for modernisation.

We now need to go further. We have to address the frustration that people feel when they come and wait for hours to be seen in casualty in what, if we are honest, have all too often been crowded chaotic conditions.

The Department of Health’s A&E Modernisation team will be reporting within the next couple of months. It will be recommending a big overhaul in how A&E works. A revolution in casualty care. Their recommendations will be wide-ranging.

For example, slashing waiting times by doing as you have done and separating the treatment of minor injuries and illnesses from major injuries and conditions. And using NHS Direct assessment procedures to help do this.

Giving appropriately trained nurses greater powers to order x-rays, blood tests and other diagnostic procedures, to interpret the results, give medication and discharge patients.

Fast-tracking of patients directly to the appropriate speciality – for example, to orthopaedics for patients with fractured hips direct to orthopaedics.

Training and empowering physiotherapist, radiographer and paramedics to take on new and extended roles.

Focusing experienced and skilled consultants on the most complex cases.

I know that you have anticipated many of these changes. But one of the challenges we face is to make the good things happen not just in isolated hospitals but everywhere.

We do not want a lottery of care depending on how efficient your local hospital is. All patients wherever they live are entitled to prompt, convenient quality when they need.

So modernisation is not something you opt in or opt out of. Of course, it will take time. But modernisation is not an optional extra. It is a ‘must do’.

Those Trusts that embrace change and modernisation will increasingly find that we leave them to get on and provide local people with a good service. We will not only get off your back, we will reward your effort. But those few that cannot or will not change can expect support and intervention – and, where necessary, someone else running the show.

So modernisation and investment go together.

And this investment and modernisation is for a purpose. It is investment and modernisation to build a new NHS. A different sort of health service. The new buildings, the modernised facilities, the modern equipment, the extra staff and the new ways of working are part of a concerted plan to renew the NHS for a new century.

The health service we are creating effectively has four stages of care.

Easy access into the Health Service through NHS Direct, through walk-in centres and through more convenient opening times in doctors’ surgeries, through modern well run A&E departments. That is point number one.

Point number two: the doctors and nurses locally grouped into Primary Care Groups that can drive forward innovation in health care in their areas – providing a wide range services on one site. Far better and more efficient than the two-tier system that we inherited.

The third stage is then for social services and community hospitals to work together to provide community and what are sometimes called step-down or intermediate services. Particularly for elderly people, who may initially need hospital care but then require intensive rehabilitation and support in a more appropriate setting. Care which as Alan Milburn put it the other week is care that is a bridge between home and hospital.

Fourthly, an acute hospital sector, where we have the doctors and nurses and specialists and the critical care beds that we need to care for people properly. And with proper inspection and accountability in the way those hospitals are run and managed.

The four stages or levels of care working to provide the right and convenient care for each and every patient. Modern IT systems used to connect the various levels together. So appointments can be booked from the GP surgery. Test results sent and patients’ records available quickly and instantly through the latest technology.

So, our program for the Health Service requires extra investment, which we are getting. And it requires real reform and modernisation, which we are carrying out.

And since the NHS means so much to Britain, and the people who work in it, I do think it important that the media give a sense of balance about this issue. To read and hear some of the coverage in the past few weeks you would think no-one is being cared for; that it’s hopeless, beyond repair. This is alarmist nonsense.
Ninety-nine per cent of people do not get their operations cancelled on the day they are due. The vast majority get good NHS treatment. There are real problems, some of a deep and long-term nature which will require time and money and change to put right.

But there are millions of people every year in Britain getting superb healthcare from the NHS. They are the norm not the exception. We will put right what is wrong. But don’t tell people it is all wrong. It isn’t. The NHS is a brilliant conception and with that time and money and change, its reality will once again match the vision behind it.

It will take time, however. I repeat this point constantly, because it is the truth. But let no-one say that the NHS can not be re-built. It can be re-built. It will be re-built.

Yes, you will always get situations which should never happen. Yes, you will sometimes get people who are treated badly when they shouldn’t be.

But the NHS is a fine institution, that given the resources and the changes necessary will once again be the pride of Britain and the envy of the rest of the world. Taking time is obvious, but it is worth taking the time to get it right. And I am confident that we will get it right.

Speech by the Prime Minister to the Scottish Parliament 9 March 2000

I am delighted to address you this afternoon. The Scottish Parliament is a promise delivered. The Executive is established. The settled will of the Scottish people is now a solid reality, and delivering.On education, you have provided a nursery place for every 4 year old. You are reducing class sizes in the first three critical years of primary education. You will be supporting 60 new Community Schools to help social inclusion. In this Parliament you will be building or renovating 100 schools.You have the biggest ever new hospital building programme since the war now underway in Scotland, and challenging targets that will speed treatment and shorten waiting times. You are launching the new Scottish NHS Direct. You are establishing 80 new one stop clinics where patients can get diagnosis and treatment in a day. You are launching a new generation of walk in / walk out hospitals.You are making progress on social inclusion, on sustainable development You arc working to bring jobs and economic opportunities. You are dealing with crime and working on imaginative law reform.Already you are legislating on School Standards. On Feudal Law. On public Finance and Accountability. On Standards in Public Life.These are substantial achievements, in a Parliament not yet one year old, and are real cause for pride.Nobody is saying this body is perfect. any more than any other parliament is perfect. Nobody is saying mistakes will not be made. They will. Here, as in Westminster, we have to listen. We have to learn. We do listen. We will learn.This is a new world and we, all of us – politicians and media, have a responsibility to make it work precisely because it is the will of the people.In years gone by, I can recall coming to Scotland, visit after visit, and being told by the Scottish press that I didn’t believe in a Scottish Parliament and therefore would never deliver it.It is a little disappointing to see the same journalists who displayed such a passion to see the Parliament established now appearing to show an equal passion for knocking it down.Scepticism is healthy. Cynicism is corrosive.And there is no cause for it.The fact is that the Scottish Parliament is innovating, and it is working in partnership with the rest of the UK.As a parent. like many of you, I am terrified about the threat of drugs. Nearly 300 young people die from drug misuse in Scotland each year. Seizures of heroin grew by 8 times between 1994 and 1998. In 1998 40% of secondary four pupils in Scottish Schools admitted to using illegal drugs.So creating a Scottish Drug Enforcement Agency was one of the Scottish Executive’s first commitments. It will be a key part of the concerted drive against drug misuse. It will help to create a new concept in intelligence-led drugs enforcement. I will be meeting its Director later today when I visit a drugs rehabilitation project.But drugs traffickers and dealers don’t care if they’re in Aberdeen or Afghanistan, the UK or the Ukraine. They want only to profit from the misery they inflict on our communities.

That is why we have to tackle them at every level. The DEA is doing that in Scotland, we are doing it at a UK level, and there’s already good work going on in Europe. But not enough.

I want the war against drugs to be a much higher priority for the European Union. I’ve already spoken to the current Presidency, the Portuguese Prime Minister, Antonio Guterres, and he has agreed that we must have drugs on the agenda at the European Council in Portugal in June.

We will press for early progress towards minimum penalties throughout the European Union for trafficking in the drugs that cause most harm. Dealers must know that they will face severe penalties wherever they are caught.

All European countries have drug problems. Member States must learn from each other. At the European Council at Tampere we agreed important measures on combined police operations and judicial cooperation. We must put this into practice against drugs. The UK is proposing that EU Members should compare their performance against best practice, using the same tough and tested measures. We will offer expert UK input.

Drugs and crime are problems in countries applying to join the EU too. Much of the heroin in the UK comes here through applicant countries. That creates problems for them as well as us. So we will be pressing for closer cooperation on drugs and crime with applicant countries, to help us all work for drug-free societies in an enlarged European Union.

That mcans helping applicant countries to collect data, and working with them to monitor and evaluate anti-drugs programmes. We are not of course setting up new barriers to accession: quite the opposite. We want to help them ensure that there are effective barriers to organised crime throughout a larger
European Union.

The UK will immediately increase its anti-drugs cooperation and assistance in this area. We are urging other EU countries to do the same.

Action to deal with drugs is an excellent example of where we must work together. Scotland with England. The UK with the EU. The EU with the rest of Europe. Europe with the rest of the world.

So, there are things predominantly Scottish that should be done by Scots in Scotland. There are areas we can learn from each other. And there are things that we can only do with each other.

For example, building a strong defence not just for the UK but to allow us to play a role in the wider world. Whether in Northern Ireland, Kosovo, East Timor, Mozambique, we can be proud of the extraordinary dedication and professionalism of our services in their work around the globe. They are a huge asset to all of us, and the Scottish vital to it. It is no coincidence that when the world wanted a new Secretary-General in NATO thcy turned to Britain and to a Scot, George Robertson. This country’s strength in foreign policy – crucial to British influence in the world – depends on all parts of the UK working together.

Or take the environment. It does not respect geographical boundaries. Environment policy is devolved but cooperation across the UK, across Europe and across the world is vital if we are to tackle the problems we face. In January Sarah Boyack and Michael Meacher produced the ambitious UK Air

Quality Strategy. Today Sarah and John Prescott are setting out where we are on the UK Climate Change Programme. There will be a distinctive approach in Scotland but we are united in adopting a joint target for C02 emissions in the UK and in taking the steps to meet the targets we agreed in Kyoto and on this, Scotland has a good story to tell, and the UK has a good story to tell.

Shaping a welfare system that provides security for all in a changing world is another common challenge we are better meeting together.

Perhaps above all, there is the challenge of full employment in the new global economy. A few years back, it was almost taboo to mention full employment. People felt it was beyond reach: therefore irresponsible to discuss it. It was a revolutionary slogan on the left but met with a shaking of the head in conventional wisdom. Today, we can set it as a goal and not be derided. Unemployment in Scotland today is 5.1%. Long-term unemployment has halved. We have far further to go, but no longer is it certain that when unemployment falls, inflation must rise and the economy move into a downturn, which raises unemployment again. For the first time in over 3 decades we have slowed the economy down without recession. We know what works. Economic discipline. The embrace of the new information technology. Vigorous competition. Investment in education and skills. Incentives to work and work pay. Specific measures to tackle social exclusion, which economic demand management alone cannot cure.

Provided we all work together, the UK has a better chance than for a generation, to open up prosperity and opportunity to all. Full employment is no longer an idle dream, an exercise in futility. It is achievable.

Some believe the programme of decentralisation and devolution is wrong. I disagree profoundly. You do not judge these changes in days or months, or even a short space of years. You judge them in the broad sweep of history. There is an historical movement away from centralised government. As democracy matures, so does the desire of the electorate for decisions to he taken closer to them. So does the desire for diversity. When people point to differences in devolved policy and ask me, “isn’t this a problem?”, my response is that it is devolution. Not an accident. But the intention.

Other people mistakenly say it represents the end of Britain. The truth is quite the opposite. Our identity as Britain is a matter of our values and our interests. It is not about fossilizing institutions and refusing to change them.

Indeed it would be failure to modemise that would lead to the end of Britain. That is why this Government is bringing our constitution up to date. To make sure that it does give effect to our continuing values in fast changing circumstances.

Britain’s values and interests are enduring. They have grown up from our history and our shared experience. They reflect the shared experience of countries coning together in common interest to form a diverse but strong union. These values are deep rooted and powerful. They bind together Scotland and the rest of Britain. They are expressed in the partnership which we are forging today between the Scottish Parliament and the United Kingdom Parliament.

So, let us never forget, why we embarked on this great and historic change.

We did it to empower the people of Scotland. To give people here in Scotland more say over their own affairs, while still enjoying the benefits of the United Kingdom.

We did it in order to provide better government, with more scrutiny, of decisions made closer to the people they affect, by the people they affect.

We did it to modernise the partnership that is today’s United Kingdom, so that Scotland, along with the other nations that make up our Union, can play its full part.

Above all, we did it to enhance and improve thc daily lives and opportunities of every man, woman and child in Scotland, today and for generations to come.

That has been our purpose, and that remains our purpose.

That is why I stand before you today, deeply conscious of the historical significance of this occasion. Our country is changing. The institutions of the l9th Century will not serve us in the 21st.

Ours is a union that is evolving. We see it in our relations with Europe, We see it in the creation of a Welsh Assembly. We see it in the popular will yearning for devolved government in Northern Ireland. We see it in the strengthening of local identity in the regions of England. And perhaps most of all, we see and feel it here in this Scottish Parliament.

When they locked the doors of the old Scottish Parliament nearly three hundred years ago, they said it was “the end of an auld sang”. I am here to celebrate with you the beginning of a new one, and of a new era of partnership within the United Kingdom.

Statement by the Prime Minister to Parliament on health policy, 22 March 2000

Yesterday the Chancellor announced funding for the NHS, not just for the coming financial year but for the three years following. Taken together with this year the first year of the current CSR – it means:* The biggest sustained investment for the NHS – a 35% real terms rise over five years;
* A real terms average increase of 6.1% per year over next four years.This is a rise of over double the average under the last Government.Yes, there have been larger one-off rises. But never a rise sustained in this way. It means that by 2003/4, NHS spending will have risen to 7.6 per cent of GDP. That is a huge increase in any terms. In a period of predicted economic growth, it is unique.And it comes with an immediate injection this year of £2 billion extra for the UK, which includes the tobacco duty increase of £300 million.We have done this because we believe in the NHS. We never want to see it broken up, reduced to a rump service for those who cannot afford to pay for their health care. The NHS is a unifying force in this country and under me it will remain so.
But here is the challenge to us in Government and to all who work in the NHS.Everybody knows that the NHS needed the new money announced yesterday.But everybody knows too that the NHS needs fundamental reform if it is to provide the standard of care people deserve in the 21st century.With the money, must come the modernisation.

A step change in resources must mean a step change in reform.

In our schools, we now accept that though more investment is necessary, it is not sufficient. There is a real and often hard debate about standards, performance and reform.

No-one really believes that one without the other will work.

Now is the time to raise the same debate in our NHS.

So this afternoon, I will set out the key challenges facing the Health Service, the means by which we intend to tackle them and the methods for involving the people who work in the Health Service in this vital task.

I say to our hard-working and dedicated staff in the NHS. You challenged us to come up with the money. We have done so. It was hard won and hard fought. There were many calls on it . Many places it might have been spent. We rose to your challenge. Now rise to ours. Work with us to make sure this money is spent well; make sure the NHS confronts the hard necessities of reform to improve the value we get for the money we spend.

Some Health Authorities and Trusts carry out four times more hip replacement operations than others. Why?

How is it that some Trusts can provide elective surgery for all their patients within six months while in others one in eight patients have to wait over twelve months?

In some A&E Departments non urgent patients are treated within half an hour while in others there is a four or five hour wait.

There are Trusts that see nearly 100% of their outpatients within three months, while others only manage less than 60%.

The proportion of operations done as day cases varies from 75% in some places to less than 30% in others.

There around 5,000 elderly patients in hospital who do not need to be there because of complications between social services and hospitals over their care arrangements.

Some hospitals employ twice as many nurses as others to staff critical care beds.

And why is there a two-fold difference in the cost of care between the best and the least efficient hospitals?

Some hospitals manage without long trolley waits while others have them on a regular basis.

Patients can get a routine GP appointment within 24 hours in some surgeries but have to wait four or five days in others.

The top 25% of Trusts use their consultants twice as productively as the bottom 25%.

There are huge variations in the proportion of patients at risk from heart disease, who get the appropriate drugs to help control their blood pressure and cholesterol.

Nurses in some hospitals discharge patients from A&E and in others they do not.

Some hospitals use physiotherapists to help reduce waiting times for orthopaedic appointments, and others do not.

Links between social services and GPs work well in some areas but in others are virtually non-existent.

Some medical teams are so much better at preventing and managing conditions such as diabetes and asthma than others.

These are big issues. The reasons for the variation are sometimes complex.
Some of these problems will be because of a shortage of staff and equipment. But some will be poor management; inefficient organisation. Some will rise out of outdated demarcations between professionals within the service.

Some will be systems failures. Some will be professional failures.

Each one of these must be confronted, analysed and solutions found.

So, these are the five challenges I set for the Health Service.

First the Partnership Challenge: for all parts of the health system GPs, hospitals and their consultants, PCGs, social services and community health services to work together to end bed blocking, reduce unnecessary hospital admissions and provide the right level of beds and services for each level of care.

Second, the Performance Challenge. The challenge is to ensure that using information, incentives and inspection all Trusts and PCGs come up to the standard of the best; that we provide the right support and intervention for those that struggle to provide proper standards of care; and that the systems are in place to identify and root out poor clinical practice.

As a first step towards meeting this challenge, the Secretary of State for Health will later this afternoon give details of £660 million of the extra money for next year that will be allocated straightaway to Health Authorities, Trusts and PCGs. He will set out how the extra money will be coupled with new incentives to ensure that every pound provides value for money.

Third the Challenge for the Professions: to strip out unnecessary demarcations, introduce more flexible training and working practices and ensure that doctors do not use time dealing with patients that could be treated safely by other health care staff.

Fourth, the Patient Care Challenge: for hospitals and PCGs it is to ensure that they all adopt best practice, design out delays and introduce convenient booking systems so that patients with the most serious conditions get treated quickly, and no-one has to wait too long for an operation they need.

Fifth, the Challenge on Prevention: to balance spending on tackling the causes of ill health with treating illness, to develop a more systematic approach to treating people at risk from chronic diseases and persuade more people to play their part in achieving better health by adopting a more healthy lifestyle.

These are tough challenges. Together we need to find the answers.

If excellence can happen in one part of the country then I say why cant it happen in all parts of the country.

In the past two to three years, there has been substantial change and improvement.

The internal market gone.
Record number of hospitals being built.
Nurses returning to the NHS.
More doctors in training.
New services like NHS Direct.
New standard procedures just published for cancer and heart treatment.
Casualty departments being modernised.
A new Commission for health improvement, an Ofsted for the NHS, charged with raising standards in all hospitals.
A new institute NICE to advise on the best treatments and drugs.

But we know this has not been enough; and too often the pressure of change has been made doubly painful by the pressure of scarce resources.

Now we have a chance to put the money to work.

I have set out the challenge.

But I offer to meet it in partnership with those in the NHS.

In the next few months, the Health Secretary and I will meet and talk with the people responsible for healthcare in every part of the country. We will consult the leaders of the professions and NHS organisations.

For each of the five challenge areas, there will be a dedicated unit to examine the problems and come up with solutions. The unit will be jointly led by a Health Minister and a key leader from within the NHS.

And because it is a national health service, I have invited the First Minister in Scotland and the First Secretary in Wales to join me in a UK-wide group of Ministers to develop and drive through the reform we devise.

In addition, for England, a new Cabinet committee chaired by me will be established to agree and monitor the standards of service and improvements people can expect by the end of the financial year 2003/4.

Then, in July, we will publish a detailed four-year action plan for the NHS. The improvements we seek. The change necessary to achieve them. The timetable for their delivery.

It will not complete the journey of renewal for the NHS.

But it will take us a long way towards our destination.

It will take tough, often painful decisions about change to make progress. But, I want all parts of the NHS to sign up to the plan, to feel ownership of it, to agree the priorities we set out, and to help us deliver them. I want the country to unite around it.

But I do not, I will not, yield to those who believe the NHS has had its day. It has not. A modernised NHS, not private medical insurance, is the future. The values of the NHS are every bit as relevant today as they were fifty years ago. But they have to be applied in a different way, for a different age.

The NHS is one of the great institutions that binds our country together. It is one of the great civilising achievements of the 20th century.

It is our task as the Party which created the NHS to renew it for the 21st century and defeat the pessimists and the privatisers who would see it dismantled.


Prime Minister’s Speech to the Global Ethics Foundation, Tübigen University, Germany30 June 2000

“Values and the power of Community”It is an honour to speak at Tübingen University. One of Germanys oldest and most influential seats of learning. A renowned centre of scholarship and science that has long been and remains at the forefront of Europes intellectual development. And also the city twinned with Sedgefield, my constituency in Co. Durham, which I have represented for over 17 years in the UK Parliament.Tübingen was at the heart of the Reformation, something that has relevance to some of the theme I want to talk about today. In 1534 Duke Ulrich introduced the Reformation into Tübingen and in 1536 he established the Lutheran seminary which played such a prominent role in the development of Lutheranism in Germany. But in 1817 the universitys Catholic faculty of theology was restored. It has co-existed in an environment of mutual understanding and creative dialogue ever since.It is a good thought to start on.Today I want to set out my view as to the ethical values that should guide us in the era of globalisation. I shall argue that in a world of change, it is the belief in community, and in the equal worth of all, that offers us the only hope of a peaceful and prosperous future; and that a purely self-interested and materialistic philosophy will lead to ruin.I shall split the speech into four parts.1. The nature of global change.
2. Community within a nation.
3. The doctrine of international community.
4. The role of religious faith and understanding.
Northern IrelandBut first, as I know that progress in Northern Ireland is one of the reasons I was invited here, I will say a few words about that. The history of Northern Ireland teaches us many things. But primarily it teaches us the value of a civic society where ancient divisions can be healed.Today, engagement and dialogue have shattered the depressing status quo of the past. “Working together”, once dirty words, is now the basis of a new future that offers hope in place of war.Of course there are those who reject this change. People who believe that if you don’t fit in with their view of the world, you don’t belong. But they are the minority. The majority rejected the old ways. They voted for change. For the first time ever Northern Ireland has an inclusive government voted for by the people of Northern Ireland.I am proud of what has been achieved in Northern Ireland. I am honoured by the interest shown in it round the world. With the support and prayers of millions outside Northern Ireland, I know we can build a future of peace and harmony in Northern Ireland.But what is the fundamental lesson of Northern Ireland for us all? For me it is this. There is no place in the 21st century for narrow and exclusive traditions. It underlines the supreme importance in the modern world of understanding our dependence on one another, for future progress.
The challenge of changeWe are living through an age of global change, one of the most dramatic and unpredictable in the history of the world. Hardly a month passes without some breathtaking development in science or technology.In 1990 two American futurologists published a book entitled Megatrends 2000. They did not need to look too far a mere ten years. Yet one word does not appear in the entire book the word ‘Internet’ the phenomenon that today is changing our lives.Our world is moving at breakneck speed, and continuous change is among the hardest things for human beings to bear. Small wonder that ours has been called the ‘age of anxiety’ or, in the title of Francis Fukuyama’s latest book, The Great Disruption.I believe it is no exaggeration to say that we are in the middle of the greatest economic, technological and social upheaval the world has seen since the industrial revolution began over two centuries ago.

Globalisation is not merely an economic phenomenon, and that is why our response cannot simply be an economic one. During most of the twentieth century, scarred as it was by ideological conflict and divisions, such a concept would have been unthinkable. In that sense, you could say that globalisation started here in Germany, with the fall of the Berlin Wall and the end of the Cold War. Last night I strolled with Chancellor Schroeder over the Glienicker Bridge, where once spies between East and West were swapped. The exchanges were going on until not much more than a decade ago; the Berlin Wall fell just 11 years ago.

It was only once the ideological barricades came down all over the globe that the choice became not the state or the market but how you develop a dynamic market, an intelligent state, and an active civil society.
Earlier this week I participated in an event to launch the first draft of the book of life the human genome project. The power that this information puts at our disposal almost defies our comprehension. Only future generations will be able fully to evaluate its true significance. Many of us reacted with wonder mixed with foreboding. Wonder at the new frontiers that science has opened up. Foreboding at what lies beyond; at what this mean for our sense of ourselves, for our destinies, for what we understand to be the natural order of things.

Globalisation has brought us economic progress and material well-being. But it also brings fear in its wake. Children offered drugs in the school playground; who grow up sexually at a speed I for one find frightening; parents who struggle in the daily grind of earning a living, raising a family, often with both parents working, looking after elderly relatives; a world where one in three marriages ends in divorce; where jobs can come and go because of a decision in a boardroom thousands of miles away; where ties of family, locality and country seem under constant pressure and threat.

Yet it is a world where our living standards rise, our opportunities for travel and communication are those our grandparents would never dream of.

It is a world with a paradox at the heart of it: greater individual freedom; yet greater interdependence. We can do more; yet the very nature of globalisation is that what we do affects others more. We buy and consume more as a matter of personal choice; yet the opportunities we have and our quality of life depend ever more on choices we make together – good schools, environmental pollution, safe streets; or at an international level, world trade agreements or nuclear weapons control.

So the change is fast and fierce, replete with opportunities and dangers. The issue is: do we shape it or does it shape us? Do we master it, or do we let it overwhelm us? That’s the sole key to politics in the modern world: how to manage change. Resist it: futile; let it happen: dangerous. So – the third way – manage it. But it can’t be managed unless there are rules of management, value judgements as to how and why we are managing it in a particular way.

Heres where we must resolve an apparent conflict between old and new, modernisers and traditionalists. The traditionalist mourns the passing of the old familiarities, points to the greater stability of family life in the past; points to the ugliness and disorder of much of the new world. The moderniser sees its opportunities; rejects the prejudices of the past, the old hierarchies, is impatient to grasp the material benefits modernity brings. And in politics, the fascinating thing is that there is left and right in both camps. A traditionalist left that hates global finance; a traditional right that fears the immigrant. A modernising left that sometimes too easily shrugs off the threat to family life; a modernising right that believes in the supremacy of market forces.

The resolution of this conflict lies in applying traditional values to the modern world; to leave outdated attitudes behind; but re-discover the essence of traditional values and then let them guide us in managing change. The theologians among you will say it is reuniting faith and reason.

What are the values? For me, they are best expressed in a modern idea of community. At the heart of it is the belief in the equal worth of all the central belief that drives my politics – and in our mutual responsibility in creating a society that advances such equal worth. Note: it is equal worth, not equality of income or outcome; or, simply, equality of opportunity. Rather it affirms our equal right to dignity, liberty, freedom from discrimination as well as economic opportunity. The idea of community resolves the paradox of the modern world: it acknowledges our interdependence; it recognises our individual worth.

It allows us to unite old and new. The traditionalist is right to worry about the breakdown of family life. The moderniser is right to say that shouldnt prejudice us against single parent families, the majority of whom do not choose to be single parent families. The moderniser is right to say global markets are good not bad. The traditionalist is right to worry about the inequity that can arise from them. The moderniser needs values. The traditionalist needs modern reality. In this way globalisation in money, travel, communication, technology can extend to a global ethic as well.
Community within a Nation

So: let us start applying this principle to modern Government. We embrace change. We do so on the basis of building a community, where citizens are of equal worth. Opportunity to all; responsibility from all.

Nowadays, it is pretty clear what governments have to do to promote prosperity. Macroeconomic policy is no longer left or right. It is right or wrong. Indeed, it is governments of the centre-left who have often been cleaning up the deficits inherited from the right. In Britain in May 97, we found a borrowing requirement of £28bn per annum and a doubled national debt. In our first year we were paying more interest out on the debt than we were spending on the entire schools system. We are now in surplus and destined to remain so, though there were a lot of tough decisions along the way. For the first time in my adult life, Britains long-term interest rates are below those of Germany.

But its only ever a foundation. On top has to be built a modern economy whose raw material is knowledge, skills, the aptitude and intelligence of people. Here there is certainly a political divide. For me, the challenge is to use the power of the community, acting together, to break down the barriers holding back opportunity for all. Education based on excellence for all and learning through life, not just at school becomes the economic, as well as social priority for a modern nation in the knowledge economy. When the Berlin Wall stood, the arms race occupied the leading nations of the world. Today, it is the knowledge race.

We are putting through an education revolution in Britain today.

We are raising, sharply, education spending. All 4 year olds are now given nursery education; 3 year olds will come next. Primary schools are being re-focussed around literary and numeracy, where we need a dramatic improvement in attainment. We are opening up 11-18 year old education, creating new specialist schools, which devote particular attention to one subject, building City Academies in our inner cities, to be schools of excellence in deprived areas; introducing new contractual arrangements for teachers to link pay to performance; closing poor schools; removing poorly performing Head Teachers, rewarding others, better; massively expanding university and further education. In addition there is a huge investment in I.T. training and education for adults as well as children. There will shortly be opened a University for Industry, which will offer high-quality, easily accessible skills courses through the internet. We are doing a lot but every day I worry it should be more. For I know there are children still being raised without the hope of making the most of themselves. And millions, literally, of adults who cannot read and write properly. So much potential, wasted, failed by the past.

But its not just education we need. We need enterprise, small businesses encouraged, new structures as to how we treat business taxes to stimulate growth and reward entrepreneurs.

And then, there is a new phrase for modern Government policy social exclusion. We can attain full employment in Europe today. But not by demand management alone. We need special targeted measures at that hard core of the unemployed, whose problems are not just lack of work, but who are often living in a culture of poverty, drug abuse, low aspirations and family instability, excluded, set apart from societys mainstream. Our New Deal in the UK has taken 250,000 of them off benefit and into work and helped 200,000 more with training. We are shortly going to announce how we renew the programme for the next Parliament, and press on further to the goal of full employment.

All of this requires a sense of responsibility from us as a community to help others; to allow each person the chance to fulfil their potential. Without the values of community, solidarity, there would be no driving imperative to act. Yes, it is economically vital to improve education. But it is a moral case, too. Deprive a child of educational opportunity and you deny their equal worth.

This part of the agenda though not perhaps the policies would be familiar to any adherent of the centre-left, moderniser and traditionalist. But you cant build a community on opportunity or rights alone. They need to be matched by responsibility and duty. That is the bargain or covenant at the heart of modern civil society. Frankly, I dont think you can make the case for Government, for spending taxpayers money on public services or social exclusion in other words for acting as a community – without this covenant of opportunities and responsibilities together.

If we invest so as to give the unemployed person the chance of a job, they have a responsibility to take it or lose benefit. And on crime, I have no hesitation about being very hard on it. Its not just that the vulnerable suffer most from crime. It is that it breaks the covenant between citizens. In Britain, we are now introducing policies that mean automatic jail for third time burglars; minimum and long sentences for rape; and setting aside additional prison places for violent crime. Violent neighbours can be evicted. It is all controversial. The Conservative Opposition have for example, refused to support us when we say those who breach community sentences, should lose their benefits.

We help drug addicts, but we test offenders for drugs and if theyre positive, we demand they get treatment. We hit drug dealers hard.

And we believe in law and order. We have passed measures to deal with noisy neighbours, and anti-social behaviour. We have encouraged the courts to use them more.

You will know, sadly, shamefully for us, that we, like other countries, have a problem with football hooliganism. At home, we have a tough regime and it has worked. We need to do more to deal with the problem when England fans travel abroad. We will do so.

But it is not just about football.

We are now looking at giving the police more powers to deal with drunken anti-social behaviour which causes offence and misery in too many towns and cities on too many Friday and Saturday nights.

Bizarrely, as the law stands, the police have the power in Britain to levy on the spot fines for cycling on pavements and dog fouling. And yet, they have to deal with drunks who get offensive and loutish and often can do nothing about it without a long, expensive process through the police station, the courts and beyond.

It is perfectly legal for a private company to put a clamp on a car wheel and demand £100 to get it released.

Yet no comparable power exists for our public police force. I believe that should change.

On Monday I meet some of our senior policemen and I want to put to them the idea that their officers get the power to levy on the spot fines for drunken, noisy, loutish and anti-social behaviour. Obviously where real violence and serious criminal intent is involved, the courts must remain the only option. But I am talking about dealing with nuisance drunken behaviour.

A thug might think twice about kicking in your gate, throwing traffic cones around your street or hurling abuse into the night sky if he thought he might get picked up by the police, taken to a cashpoint and asked to pay an on the spot fine of, for example, £100.

If the police want that power and I believe they will, and the public will support it they should get that power.

Some of the libertarian left express shock at some of our measures; just as some of the right do not think the community should have a responsibility to provide jobs for people. Both are wrong.

Todays way forward is a modern civil society of rules and order but not prejudice or discrimination. We are tolerant of peoples sexuality, opposed to all forms of discrimination, but intolerant of anti-social conduct. We have taken our traditional values of respect for others and solidarity, we have accepted the need for Government action, but are re-casting both values and role of Government to meet the challenge of a changing world.
Community as an international idea

Now let us step outside our nation-states and analyse the world the nation-state finds itself in today.

None of the big issues facing us all trade, finance, the environment, nuclear proliferation, organised crime and drugs can be tackled today by nations acting alone.

The history of the last 100 years and more shows the vital importance of renewing the institutions of international co-operation and of building alliances between the main players.

For centuries, statesmen and philosophers, appalled by the horrors and futility of war, have made attempts to reconcile the ideal of an international community with the reality of a world based on states and their interests. In 1309 the poet Dante proposed in his book the Kingdom that all nations should live under one law and that this world law would one day keep nations from going to war with each other. Two hundred years later the Dutch scholar Erasmus in his Complaint of Peace appealed to all earthly kings and rulers to set up a Council of Just Men to deal with disputes so that, as he put it, wars should not breed wars.

At the end of the 16th century the Duc de Sully wrote the Grand Design suggesting that the 15 states of Europe set up a Council of Europe to deal with the problems arising between them as a national parliament would. Hugo Grotius, in 1625, set out in his Laws of War and Peace the first comprehensive system of international law. William Penn drew up a scheme for a European Parliament and Abbe de Saint-Pierre in 1716 devised a Project for a Permanent Peace to unite the nations rulers in a Senate, where voting would take the place of war-making. Jean-Jacques Rosseau and Immanuel Kant and many others dreamed up the kind of world order, in keeping with their times, that would abolish war and bring the nations together.

But it was only following the First World War that a world legal constitution was actually drawn up and agreed at the Peace Conference in Paris in 1919. It was called the Covenant of the League of Nations.

Sixty one nations eventually joined the League, but not the United States. Although it was never a world parliament, many people today recognise it as the true parent of the present United Nations.

Despite early successes, the League failed to achieve its goal of preventing another world war. The League became a mirror of a discordant world. Its Council discussed the Japanese invasion of China, the Italian invasion of Ethiopia, and the German invasion of Czechoslovakia and Austria; and was powerless to prevent any of them.

The elaborate system of collective security that the League represented never worked; because in the end the common bonds of trust and shared values that would have to underpin such collective security were not there. Too much of the world, tragically, agreed with Mussolini, that it faced a simple choice between fascism or communism.

Thankfully he was wrong, though many millions died in defeating both. The Charter of the United Nations has now served for over half a century as the political constitution of mankind. But one has only to glance through the Preamble to be struck by the gap between promise and performance, between the hopes and pledges of 1945 and of 1919 and the frustrations of Bosnia, the Congo, Angola, Afghanistan.

We have not yet made a reality of our determination to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, to unite our strength to maintain international peace and security and to practice tolerance and live together in peace with one another as good neighbours. And we have had only limited success in our endeavours to reaffirm faith in the fundamental human rights and in the dignity and worth of the human person and to promote social progress and better conditions of life in larger freedom.

How we collectively respond to globalisation in many ways will determine whether we can bridge that gap between these aspirations and todays reality.

I believe we will only succeed if we start to develop a doctrine of international community based on the principle of enlightened self-interest. As within countries, so between countries. A community based on the equal worth of all, on the foundation of mutual rights and mutual responsibilities.

This is not to say nations will not pursue their self-interest or that there will not be occasions when those interests conflict in a way that diminishes or overwhelms the desire for mutual understanding. We are not naïve. But it is to say that increasingly, our problems are shared and our societies and economies threatened where no understanding to resolve these problems exists; and benefit greatly where it does.
Let us be specific

First, free trade is the key to prosperity for poorer nations and essential for the competitiveness of the richer ones. Protectionism on the other hand is the result of short-sighted view of the national interest. Today we have a World Trade Organisation where until recently we had no formal organisation to oversee world trade at all. More remarkably, China will shortly join it.

Rich countries need to go further, in particular to free up trade in agricultural goods, to meet both our moral obligation to the poor, and our long-term self-interest. That is why I believe we must restart the stalled WTO trade round before the end of the year.

Second, the fact that debt relief is on the Okinawa G8 agenda in three weeks time highlights how far the concept of solidarity based on enlightened self-interest has come.

We in Britain are writing off our debt. But we must do more and I hope at G8 we will take it further.

We will also be looking at ways in which we can work in partnership with others to roll back the diseases that hold back the developing world: AIDS, malaria, TB.

Third, crime and drugs are international issues. As business has gone global, so has the business of crime, above all the drugs trade. When you hear stories of drug barons offering to pay off a countrys national debt in return for the freedom to operate, you realise the scale of the threat we face.

As now in the EU, the fight against crime will make up an important part of the G8 summit. We will discuss measures to strike at the heart of the drug and crime cartels by identifying, and then confiscating, the criminal gains from their activities. We are also looking into drawing up common benchmarks against which to judge international financial centres, so that we are better able to crack down on the money laundering and financial crime upon which the most sophisticated and dangerous international crime organisations depend. We will also look into ways of controlling the trade in the pre-cursor chemicals that are used to manufacture many of the synthetic drugs flooding our cities and streets.

Fourth, as individual nations, we are powerless to halt the destruction of our environment upon which we and future generations all collectively depend. But at Kyoto we showed that there is an international consensus on the importance of tackling global warming. A generation ago, this would have been unthinkable. We now need to take advantage of that agreement in principle to ensure that the commitments we made are followed up in practice. We are working closely with Germany on this.

At Okinawa we will also be making the case for a new drive on renewable energy. Two billion people do not have access to the most basic resource of the modern world: electricity. We need to find sustainable ways of giving them that access if we are to have any chance of bridging the global gap between rich and poor.

Fifth, despite the end of the Cold War the threat of nuclear proliferation is still with us. But the Non-Proliferation Treaty and the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty represent a collective determination to banish the possibility of nuclear war from the world.

Lastly on the G8 agenda, there is technology. We will not be able to deal with the global implications of the information and biotechnology revolutions if we cannot do so on the basis of common values and mutual responsibility.

At Okinawa we will be taking action to avoid the emergence of a global digital divide, and extending the opportunity of education. We will also be looking at ways of building a greater international scientific consensus on genetically modified foods, and wider food and crop safety issues.

Common problems, common interests have led to mutual responsibility and mutual gain.

The EU is the most obvious manifestation around us of the need for nations to co-operate together. This is not a speech about Europe though I am happy to take questions on it. Neither despite what you may read was this ever going to be a response to the interesting and important speech made by President Chirac to the German Parliament earlier this week. I will be setting out the British view as to Europe’s future in a speech in the autumn. I have no doubt that it is important for Great Britain to be a full and leading partner in Europe. And as I said last night, it is time we had the confidence in Britain to realise we can shape and influence events in Europe and indeed are doing so. Europe is not a conspiracy against us, but an opportunity for us.
Inter-Faith Understanding

There is something else we can do as well and I mention this because I am speaking here in Tübingen and I have Hans Küng alongside me. We can do our best to overcome the religious divisions that still threaten our peace.

There is a contradiction between trying to renew the doctrine of community politically; and ignoring the dimension of inter-faith understanding. Faith and reason are not opponents but partners. In the past, and increasingly today, we value the role religions play in promoting peace. Peace and religion have not always been fellow travellers, it is true, but today with greater understanding between religions a more just and peaceful world is ever closer.

We live in an era rich with examples of inter-religious dialogue. The Popes recent pilgrimage to Jerusalem springs to mind when Jews, Muslims and Christians met in a spirit of fraternity. Equally poignant and closer to Tübingens cultural experience was the signing last year of that great milestone in Lutheran-Catholic understanding – The Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification. Such examples give great hope and send a clear sign to the world that faiths will not allow their doctrinal differences to stand in the way of greater co-operation.

Religious dialogue and understanding is essential to peace. Ignorance creates fear, which creates conflict. Such dialogue does not have to deny or trivialise differences but it should look at the common elements in faith.

Our global community is like a tapestry; individual threads at its back; an intelligible picture at its front. All our faiths make up our global community, but they are all different ways of pondering the same fundamental question; the nature of existence.

If it is true that it is only by clear commitment to shared values that we survive and prosper in a world of change, then surely religious faith has its own part to play in deepening such commitment. What is faith but belief in something bigger than self? What is the idea of community but the national acknowledgement of our own interdependence? In truth, faith is reasons ally.

Religion has often resulted in bigotry. But so has political ideology. However a society where there is religious faith will always, in my view, be inherently more likely finally to pursue the good of humankind; and the less it sees reason as its enemy, the quicker it will get there. But how religion modernises itself that is a topic for another time, and another speaker.

Religions can help to make our communities communities of values. The inevitability of globalisation demands a parallel globalisation of our best ethical values; not a distilling or unnecessary uniformity of the rich values that make up our communities of faith. But the basic premises of our faiths; solidarity; justice; peace and the dignity of the human person are what we need in the age of globalisation.

Traditionally, these were religious values. But we now know, through several quite different disciplines, that they are universal values. Economists call them “social capital”. Evolutionary biologists call them “reciprocal Altruism”. Political theorists call them communitarianism or civil society. Each of these phrases stands for what is really a quite simple idea that what gives us the power to survive in a rapidly changing environment are the habits of co-operation, the networks of support, our radius of trust. And we learn those habits in families, schools congregations and communities. It is there that we learn the grammar of togetherness, the give and take of rights and responsibilities, where we pass on our collective story, our ideals, from one generation to the next. Without them, society is too abstract to be real. Community is where they know your name; and where they miss you if you’re not there. Community is society with a human face.

And that is what we need at times of change. It is an extraordinary fact, and a moving one, that our great faith traditions have survived, while political, economic and social systems have come and gone. Wherever you find a group that has managed to break free of the encircling bonds of poverty and deprivation, there you will invariably find strong families, associations and communities of faith. It’s there we discover that a crisis shared is a crisis halved; and a celebration shared is a celebration doubled.

So my argument to you is that traditional values and change are not enemies but friends because it is precisely at the epicentre of change that we need the human foundations of stability. It’s when the winds blow strongest that you need deep roots. When we know we are not alone, we can face the future without fear.

It is community that allows us to do so. It is values that sustain communities. And it is in a new world, global values, reaching out beyond national frontiers and ideological horizons, that will guide us to our destination: a more peaceful, secure and prosperous world for all.

Speech by the Prime Minister to the Chief Nursing Officer’s Conference, 10 November 2000
“The Choice: Investment in the Health Service”This is the second in a series of speeches I am making about the choices facing Britain. Before I come to the main issue I want to address today – nursing in the NHS – I want to set it all in a wider context.When we came to office we identified these key weaknesses in Britain.1. Chronic instability in our economy, boom and bust, periods of growth then followed by recession that had given us high interest rates, a doubled national debt, high unemployment, with business and Government often unable to plan ahead financially.2. Chronic under-investment in our public services, like schools, hospitals, police and transport.3. Chronic social division, with one in five non-pensioner homes having no-one working within them, and four million children and 2 million pensioners living in poverty.These weaknesses were fundamental. They required long-term solutions. They involved and still involve tough choices. One of the most frustrating aspects of modern politics is that you seldom get the chance, even as Prime Minister, to engage the public in a serious and detailed conversation about the choices you face. Yet understanding these choices and calling them the right way, is of the essence. Because each one is a fork in the road, in the journey of renewal of Britain. The right turning will take us further along the road. The wrong one leaves us stranded. So the choices of direction are vital. They are long-term and they are hard.If we want a better NHS and more nurses in it, better paid nurses, we need to have the money to pay for it. We can only get the money if the economy is strong. And the economy can only become strong if we take the decisions necessary to strengthen it. We have to earn before we can spend, in public life just as in our household expenses as individuals.So back in May 1997 we took two fundamental choices. We gave the Bank of England independence in setting interest rates. We set tough new spending rules which meant we could get out of serious debt, and couldn’t go back in it again. Together they have revolutionised British economic management. Politics can’t be played with interest rates. Governments can’t spend what they can’t afford. The aim was to give such confidence on economic management to markets and business that we would avoid the boom and bust of the past. Today, we are now the fourth biggest economy in the world. Inflation is the lowest in Europe. Interest rates that used to average ten per cent, average six per cent. Employment is the highest, unemployment the lowest for over 20 years. We have paid off a vast amount of national debt. But it all came from a choice.We made another choice. Through the New Deal, the Minimum Wage and the Working Families’ Tax Credit, and special help to people being made redundant, we put one million people into work and made it pay, so saving vast sums in benefit. So more people are working, paying taxes not being paid benefit, and the Treasury is in surplus.But it all came at a price. It meant two, nearly three, tough years on public spending and some unpopular decisions like keeping the fuel duty escalator, to cut down the borrowing requirement. It meant that we didn’t start really to invest in the NHS in the way we wanted until this year. So you were working flat-out and often still are in an NHS that was under-funded.But as a result of the tough decisions, when we did start to invest, we could do it in a way that lasts. We now have a four year programme of investment which will grow NHS spending by a third more. Not feast then famine but steady, sustainable growth over a number of years. Why? Because it is built on the foundation of a strong economy.Likewise we are investing massively and sustainably in education, transport, science and technology. All this investment is vital. I said the British economy was strengthening. But it is not as strong as it can be. We need to raise productivity. To do that we need to raise skills, to develop our most important national resource: people. This investment is the best guarantee of future prosperity for all.However, again, it represents another turning in the road, another choice of direction. We did what we responsibly could to help motorists and hauliers on Wednesday, but we did it in a way that did not put at risk either economic stability – which helps businesses and our mortgages – or our programme of investment. That too is a choice. We have chosen the path of investment. And I say to the fuel protesters and others: we understand your concerns, we are happy to carry on in dialogue with you, but we have done as much as we responsibly can. We cannot and will not reverse the choices we have made for stability not boom and bust, and investment in our public services, not cuts. Because those are the best long-term choices for Britain’s hard-working families.There is another choice. We have insisted that investment in public service is accompanied by reform. It will make our railways safer and better as we put in £180 billion over the next ten years. It will make standards in school rise year on year. Investment in sport will produce more success stories for Britain and more opportunities for our children. Investment in childcare enables mothers to balance work and family. Investment in our communities makes our country more civilised, and brings people together. And of course investment in our NHS – buildings, equipment, salaries, more staff, will bring peace of mind to millions of patients and a better life for those who work in the NHS.I believe investment brings not just a stronger society but strengthens our economy. If we invest we prosper.
That is what the NHS Plan which we published in July was all about.The vision was an NHS re-designed around the needs of the patient, with a staff whose dedication would finally be matched by the conditions and modern working practices they deserved.Despite the media concentration only on what is wrong in the NHS, I believe the glass is half full and not half empty. Yes, there are still real problems and enormous pressures. But step by step, there is also change and improvement.

Monday saw the publication of the latest waiting list figures for inpatient treatment. Down for the fifth month in a row, to 126,000 below the level we inherited. The number of people waiting over 13 weeks for their outpatient appointment is also down – by 9,000 since June.

Waiting lists will rise during winter as they always do, as the health service switches part of its capacity to focus on winter ailments and emergencies. But the downward trend will then continue. Waiting lists are 52,000 lower than at the same point last year and 182,000 than the year before.

Other improvements are also starting to come through. New hospitals in Carlisle, Dartford, Wycombe and Amersham open, with many more on the way as Alan Milburn will set out next week. 159 schemes to modernise accident and emergency departments completed and 83 under construction. 139 rapid access chest pain clinics open by the end of next March. Every health authority funding the proper drugs for breast and ovarian cancer treatment. Modern ward matrons with their own budget. Over 300 extra critical care beds for this winter. A big hospital clean-up campaign under way. The Commission for Health Improvement inspecting hospitals. And new services such as walk-in centres and NHS Direct – in which nurses have played such a leading part – up and running.

None of this could have been achieved without the effort you and your colleagues up and down the country have put in. And as Alan Milburn will set out next week, when he announces the health authority allocations for the next three years, this progress will continue.

Despite these improvements people say to me, why does it take so long? Can you not speed up the reform of the health service?

I understand people’s frustration and impatience. But as those involved in recruiting nurses you know that the limits on how far and how fast we can go are firmly related to how quickly we can get in the extra staff we need.

Until we have the heart surgeons and cardiac nurses we need, we will not be able to cut waiting times for heart surgery to the level we want.

And if we cannot recruit the extra nurses and physiotherapists to staff extra beds and intermediate care facilities, then our expansion plans will remain just that – plans.

A modern patient centred health service needs a bigger workforce.

Again we have made a good start. Nearly 5,000 doctors and over 10,000 extra nurses in post compared with 1997. But we need more. A lot more.

The long term answer is to increase the supply of doctors and nurses from the training schools. That is why we have boosted the number of nursing and midwifery training places by over 5,000 with another 5,500 to come by 2004. And an extra 4,500 training places by then for other key health professionals.

By 2005 there will be up to another 1,000 medical training places on top of the first 1,000 that are already starting to come on stream.

The benefits of this investment are beginning to show. But it will take several years before we reach our target of having 25,000 nurses and midwives coming out of training every year. And it will take even longer before we get all the doctors coming through.

That is why, with your help, we have put so much effort into recruiting nurses and midwives back into the NHS. It is effort that is producing results, as the report that we are publishing today shows. Since February last year 5,800 nurses have come back to the NHS and another 2,470 are preparing to join them.

Some places are now reporting a reduction in the number of nursing vacancies. But there are still areas where there are significant staffing shortages.

Pay is one important factor in recruiting and retaining staff. Again we have been able to make progress. The basic pay of a newly qualified nurse has increased by 18% over the past three years – an increase over and above inflation of 9%. From April this year average annual earnings for fulltime qualified nurses – including allowances and overtime – are estimated to be over £21,000.

The nurse shortages are not uniform across the country. They are most severe where there is full or near full employment and the cost of living is highest. So next week Alan Milburn will announce the details of an extra pay supplement for qualified nurses working in those areas. It will be worth a minimum of £600, over and above London Weighting, for nurses throughout London and up to senior £1,000 for senior nurses in the capital. In areas outside London, such as Bristol, Swindon, Oxford and Berkshire, nurses will receive on average in the region of £500.

But pay is only part of the picture. Staff are also increasingly demanding that employers take account of other factors that affect their lives.

The NHS has to be to be seen as an attractive and good employer if it is to recruit and retain staff. Helping staff to square work and home responsibilities is not just socially responsible it is an economic necessity. In an era of near full employment public sector employers are in competition for skilled staff. They have to match the flexible approach of the banks, supermarkets, telesales companies and the best hospitals.

For example, in London and some other parts of the South East the cost of housing is a big concern. That is why the NHS has appointed a housing co-ordinator, John Yates. As a result of his work a staff accommodation bureau is up and running and plans are well advanced to open a staff hotel in central London.

In addition to this, I can tell you today that the Housing Corporation will shortly be inviting bids to implement the plans publicised earlier this year on affordable home ownership for key workers such as nurses, police officers and teachers. The Starter Home Initiative, worth £250m over three years, will be available to fund a range of schemes to help key workers buy housing in high-cost areas. Schemes could include cash grants and new build homes.

Another concern is flexible working. A third of nurses have school age children. A recent survey by the RCN shows that for these groups the biggest single factor that determined whether they would stay in their job – bigger even than how much they were paid – was how flexible their working hours were.

A growing number of trusts are introducing flex pools that allow staff to adjust their work commitments to fit their domestic needs. They are showing that it is possible to do this and still make sure that staff who work more regular patterns get a fair deal.

But some trust managers and ward sisters have not got the message. We did it the hard way why should they have it easy, they ask. Flexible working is seen as a nuisance which those responsible for rotas would prefer to ignore.

We need a decisive and enduring change among public sector employers. The NHS Plan means that by April 2003 all employees in the health service will have the right to work for an organisation that can show it has adopted flexible working practices.

And to help this new culture take root I am announcing today a scheme to enable any nurse wanting to return to work in the NHS to take control over their working hours. Under this scheme nurse returners – and other nurses wanting to work on a casual basis – can choose to work as many or as few shifts as they like. The scheme will be operated under the banner of NHS Professionals. It will be based on the excellent initiative developed by the NHS Direct nurses in West Yorkshire.

Staff working though NHS Professionals will be entitled to holiday pay and to be members of the NHS pension scheme.

To start with the scheme will be targeted in 15 health authority areas with particular nurse staffing problems, to help them recruit part time staff during the winter months. In time NHS Professionals will link up with other trusts operating schemes of a similar standard to form a national service for staff wishing to work part time or casually.

As well as benefiting staff, NHS professionals will reduce the huge sums hospital trusts spend on agency fees – over £350 million and rising.

NHS Professionals will have two other roles.

First, it will co-ordinate the initiatives to recruit and deploy nurses from overseas.

Second, it will pilot arrangements for co-ordinating the employment of locum medical staff and other professions – such as physiotherapists and radiographers – where sessional working is widespread. This will help to raise standards and deliver better value for money.

The third area where the NHS and other public sector employers have to up their game is childcare support. Fifteen per cent of nurses as well as tens of thousands of other NHS staff have children under school age. Their overriding concern is to know that their children are being properly cared for.

Some NHS trusts such as one in Sheffield have already appointed co-ordinators whose sole task is to help staff find the right child care arrangements. As part of the NHS plan every trust will by 2003 have to have such a co-ordinator in place.

Around half of trusts offer some childcare support for working parents. That is good but not enough. The NHS Plan commits us to having on-site nurseries at around 100 hospitals by 2004 and in September Alan Milburn announced the locations for the first 30. In addition the NHS Plan will ensure that from now on workplace crèches are an essential feature of every new hospital that is built.

Everywhere I go in the country I find nurses involved in change and pioneering new ways of working. The Chief Nursing Officer’s 10 key roles for nurses roll forward that commitment to change. They provide nurses with a clear mandate to make the NHS a patient centred service. To mould services round the patient. To sweep away outdated obstacles and to adapt the nurse’s role to fit what the patient needs.

Already we are consulting on extending nurses power to prescribe – one of those 10 key roles. And the Chief Nursing Officer will be bringing together all the nurse representatives of our NHS Plan taskforces, the Regional Nursing Directors and others, to form a Modernisation Group. Its remit will be to make sure that all parts of the health service put the 10 roles into practice.

The introduction of nurse consultants is also helping to drive change. They are helping to cut waiting for specialist services, introducing and spreading new procedures, improving the quality of patient care and pushing out the boundaries of clinical nurse practice.

There are already 232 nurse consultants in post or in the process of being appointed. Today I can tell you that later this month Philip Hunt will be announcing details of over a further 200 nurse consultant posts which have been approved.

The choice we have made – to invest in the NHS – is right. Of course it will take time, but each additional investment yields its dividend. The tough choices we made on entering office are now paying off.

And it is part of a wider vision: where we reach our destination of a Britain – strong modern and fair – that can offer prosperity to all. There are no short-cuts. The majority we won in 1997 was never a reason to rush it and fail; but to do the job properly. Stage by stage. Economic stability. Then putting people back to work. Then investment in our public services. Then help to those like pensioners who need it most. At each stage, a choice. A vital decision about the future. I believe we have made the right choices. And I believe that if we can explain those choices, the British people will make the right choice too.

PM’s Mansion House Speech, 13 November 2000pm-door-new.jpg

Once again, today it is necessary to make the case for engagement not isolation as the basis of British foreign policy in the 21st Century. There are those who argue that standing apart is the safe and sensible response to a rapidly changing world. I disagree profoundly. Today’s world is shaped by alliances.Not only are finance, technology and communications global today, so is politics. To maximise our national interest, therefore, Britain should be at the centre of the alliances and power structures of the international community, including the EU.Too often, standing up for Britain has been measured solely in terms of standing up to “foreigners”, not least the EU. Of course, we should defend British interests against anything, including misguided interventions by the EU, that undermines those interests. But it is in fact part of our interests to be a key partner in the world’s major alliances. Our task is not only to prevent those alliances harming us – an oddly defensive posture vis a vis allies. It is to harness those alliances in a far more positive and constructive way to enhance our interests. It is what I call “enlightened patriotism” and it is the true way of standing up for Britain.The purpose of a nation’s foreign policy should be power, strength and influence in furtherance of its interests and beliefs. That purpose never changes. But the context in which it is pursued does.Even ten years after the Cold War I am not sure we have fully understood how different the world is.During the Cold War we knew where we stood. History and geography placed us all on one or other side. I am proud that in those – now distant – days a Labour Foreign Secretary, Ernest Bevin saw what was at stake and acted accordingly. His leadership helped to create the Euro-Atlantic community. Peace and safety, Bevin argued, could be preserved “only by the mobilisation of such moral and material forces as would create confidence and energy on one side and inspire respect and caution on the other”.Without Bevin we might not have had such a policy but there is no doubt about where we stood. Nor, through the whole period of the Cold War, could there have been any doubt. On the other side of the Iron Curtain others, less fortunate than us, were in a similar position. They also, though for different reasons, had no choice. Containment in a sense contained us all.Today is different. There is no single all-encompassing struggle from which we cannot escape.The temptation, therefore is to say: we can sit foreign policy out. On the contrary, the case for engagement today is greater than ever before.First, circumstances are propelling countries to seek common answers to problems increasingly global in scope.There is no need for me to tell you that here in the City. You operate at the hub of global markets. And you don’t need to tell people outside the City who find that an economic storm in Thailand can put their jobs in Britain at risk. Fujitsu’s plant in Aycliffe was forced to close, not because it was a bad factory, but because of a financial crisis the other side of the world and a global glut in semiconductors. In the end the 1998 crisis had to be tackled together. The World Trade Organisation will work or not depending on international agreement and whether it works will dramatically impact on the living standards of millions of people.What worries us today is less some neighbouring country invading us than the spread of nuclear weapons, missiles, biological and chemical weapons. We have seen also how Aids can spread from continent to continent, how crime can operate with global networks, how terrorists can transport their bitterness and their bombs across borders, as can religious fundamentalism. And those who do not believe in global warming should ask themselves if it was just an accident that the 1990s were the hottest decade in recorded history or that the storms and floods that have damaged this country were just a random occurrence, which is why today’s Conference at the Hague matters so much.These are issues that can only be fully resolved by the global community as a whole. And now regional alliances play a big part in setting the agenda or tipping the balance in favour of one solution or another.This is the second big change. A thumbnail sketch of international politics shows us that there is the USA – the only superpower. There are the older European powers, including Britain. There is China, with its great history, culture, vast population and, now economic dynamism. There is also India, the world’s largest democracy today with over one billion people, huge potential in the new information technology; Japan, not least because of its economy; and Russia, not least because of its land mass, natural resources and history. All of these are countries that wield substantial power even on their own. There may be others who because of size, population and position join them – Brazil, South Africa, Nigeria, Indonesia, Egypt and Saudi Arabia.But whether established powers or emerging, everyone is working out their place in the new world and the alliances to secure it. NAFTA in North America, Mercosur in South America; ASEAN; of course the EU. After the Cold War, much was written about whether NATO could survive. No one writes that today. The queue is those wanting to join.The third change is Europe itself.For centuries the countries of Europe have fought each other: the Hundred Years War, the Thirty Years War, the Seven Years War, the Napoleonic Wars, the First and the Second World Wars, and finally the Cold War. “The history of the human race”, said Churchill, “is war”. And he was thinking of Europe. Peace, over the centuries, has been not much more than a period when you recovered from the last war and prepared for the next.

Today something quite extraordinary has happened. Within the EU, not only have we not fought each other for more than 50 years but we cannot even imagine fighting each other. All across Europe the great conscript armies are being dismantled. This is also something quite new. It means that within Europe at least we have a new currency of power. Military capability is still vital, but it is no longer such a vital factor in relations among EU countries. Where it is, it is because we are likely to be working together, as in the Balkans, rather than fighting each other.

Fourth, all the big countries have an interest now in stability. Even where there is change, we want it orderly. We don’t want change with chaos. There is too much to lose – in money, jobs and of course, with nuclear weapons, in the cataclysm that would be war. The threats are more to do with conflicts of secession or competing nationalisms. We know the MEPP matters not just to those in the Middle East; but to all of us and that is more than just the price of oil.

All this means the isolationist tendency is at odds with the new reality. There is a new world order like it or not, and we need to decide our place in it.
And of course it means difficult choices, especially when there is the possibility of military engagement. Every time I have pursued a policy of military engagement since becoming Prime Minister I have faced strong opposition, interestingly not so much from the traditional left as from parts of the right. This was true over Iraq, where with America, we have stood firm against the most dangerous dictator in the world today.

As Milosevic escalated his campaign of ethnic cleansing against the Albanians in Kosovo, there were many who said we should stand aside, that we shouldn’t get involved in other people’s quarrels, that ancient hatreds were better left to run their course.

I am in no doubt that had we not taken the action we did in the spring of last year, Milosevic would still be there and we would be faced with mounting instability in South Eastern Europe. NATO’s southern flank would be unstable. And there would be one million extra refugees seeking safety in the European Union.

On Sierra Leone there were those who said: what’s it got to do with us? But I am sure Britain’s and Europe’s long-term interests in Africa are best served, if we intervene, not excessively, but to do what we can to save African nations from barbarism and dictatorship and be proud of it. And talking of pride, there can be no better advertisement for this country’s values, spirit and professionalism than our Armed Forces.

So we are right to engage. Although not today a superpower, Britain is a pivotal power in international affairs. We are the fourth largest economy; we have armed forces second to none in quality, global commercial and financial reach, a seat on the UN Security Council, a world language, an unparalleled network of European and global alliances.

The task is to use these benefits to maximum advantage, a force for good, both in our own interests and those of the wider world. So we maintain our close and vital relationship with the USA. We build on historical ties like the Commonwealth. We forge strong bilateral links with Russia, China and Japan, with whom we have profound mutual interests. In each and every international club to which we belong, we play our part vigorously and to good effect, from the UN through to NATO.

In short, we must be out there, on our merits, confident in what we are as well as what we were, taken seriously not because of our history alone but because we have something clear, strong and valuable to offer, which we do.

If we approach foreign policy in this way, anything other than a constructive approach to Europe becomes frankly ludicrous. For a start, for the countries I have just mentioned and countless others from Asia to South America, Britain can be a friend in the European Union especially when arguing for free trade and open markets. Stronger in Europe is stronger outside Europe. Less influence in Europe means less influence: period.

But also British interests are now so intimately linked with those of the EU and after enlargement will be even more so. Europe is essential for British industry, British jobs, 3½ million of which depend directly on the EU. To cut ourselves off from the major strategic alliance on our doorstep would be an act of supreme folly.

If we want to stand up for Britain then we have to be in Europe, active, constructive, involved all the time. We have to negotiate toughly and get our way not stand aside and let other European countries make the decisions that matter to us.

Where we believe other countries are wrong, for example on tax harmonisation, we will say so. On the Euro, our position – in principle in favour, in practice provided the economic conditions are met – has not changed and will not change. The only thing I can say for certain is tomorrow someone will report this as a change of policy.

The point I am making is far wider than the Euro. It is that Britain’s interests demand we help shape European policy rather than, passively, be shaped by it.

Over the last three years, our engagement in Europe has transformed Britain’s relations with its nearest allies and it starting to transform Europe itself. Following the Lisbon Summit last March, the European Union is now embarked on a process of co-ordinated structural reform; a process that will create jobs in Britain and throughout Europe.

On defence, we are engaged in a debate that will ensure Europe’s defence policy proceeds absolutely consistently with NATO. We have now entered the debate about Europe’s political future, arguing that Europe can be a superpower, but should not be a superstate in which national identity is subsumed.

All this, to me, is obvious. In a world of alliances, we must have allies. And we do. So let us not throw away our massive advantages, let us make the most of them; be at the centre of events, not a spectator; in particular be a leading partner in Europe not a bit player.

And let us do it not because we are embarrassed about our national interest but because we believe in it. Someone – highly intelligent, but eurosceptic – said to me the other day: “But Norway or Switzerland do fine outside the EU.” We have strong ties with both countries. But Britain is not Norway or Switzerland. By history, design and outlook, we are different.

The world needs us to be different. I feel sufficiently confident in British capability to believe we have something important to offer. To be the bridge between the US and the EU would alone justify the argument I am making. But our influence can and should go far beyond that.

It is all, in the end a choice. It is a pity that these arguments of isolationism continue to be so strong. It is our duty to counter them. To show that the patriot is not the person who pulls up the drawbridge and sits in his tower musing on the errors of the world; but the person who recognises that today no drawbridge makes a nation safe and that we are better out in the world, fighting for what we believe in; that tough choices over how to act are a better way of life than the soothing illusions of inactivity.

So my choice, whatever the criticisms, is for engagement. That is where I stand and where I hope and believe you stand too.

Speech on the New Deal, 30 November 2000

Today is an important milestone. In May 1997, we pledged that we would get 250,000 young unemployed people off benefit and into work. The figures published today show that 254,520 young people have gone into work through our New Deal programme.A promise made. A promise kept.When we first brought the idea of the New Deal forward, we did so against a background of some cynicism. The privatised utilities who would have to fund it through their excess profits were sceptical. There was cynicism from young people who’d had experience – either themselves or in their families and friends – of job programmes in the past. Nobody talks about skivvy schemes now.For the first time, the New Deal brought together for 18-24-year-olds a comprehensive and individually-focused programme aimed at helping them find a job, and at improving their prospects of staying in work. It brought together young people, employers, private- and public-sector providers, environmental and voluntary organisations and the Government’s Employment Service.I believe passionately that the New Deal has offered young people real hope. Real opportunity. Under the New Deal, yesterday’s rejects are today’s and tomorrow’s successes.* 250,000 young people off welfare and into work.
* long-term unemployment at its lowest for over a generation: at the mid 1980s peak of unemployment, over 1/2 million young people were unemployed for 6 months or more. Today the figure is 36,500 – all benefiting from the New Deal
* a 70 per cent fall in long term youth unemployment since May 1997
* over 200,000 young people have undertaken education or training whilst on the New Deal – for example, over 27,000 young people have received training in IT skills
* over 80,000 employers have signed up to the New Deal
* hundreds of cities and towns have benefited from environmental and voluntary initiatives being taken forward under the New Deal.But above all, for many of those who have taken part in it, the New Deal has transformed their lives.I believe Britain is now facing important choices. Vital choices. And the New Deal shows the kind of direction this Government will take – and the direction I believe that the British people want us to take.The choice between economic stability, and boom and bust.The choice between investment in our public services, and cuts in our public services.The choice between a government helping you through change, or a government which would leave you to fend for yourself.The choice between building strong communities, and a worldview which sees no such thing as society.The choice between leadership and engagement or weakness and isolation.And today, we highlight the choice between tackling unemployment, or tolerating unemployment as a price worth paying.But alongside opportunity there must be responsibility.We made it clear from the start that after the New Deal’s four options, there would be no fifth option of a life on benefit.

The total number of option sanctions that have been imposed is around 32,000. And the vast majority of those who have been sanctioned have been so only once.

So it’s tough. But it works.

When I talk about rights and responsibilities, it’s not some idealistic, impractical idea. It’s real. It’s a genuine balance. And the New Deal is the best concrete example of it.

So on the dividing line which the New Deal indicates, between a government helping you through change or a government which leaves you to fend for yourself, we know where we stand.

Our purpose has always been to marry enterprise and fairness. To lay the foundations of an opportunity economy, and upon it build a responsibility society.

A decent education and a job are the best anti-crime policy; the best anti-welfare spending policy; the best strong community policy; the best anti-poverty policy we can have.

And we do not rest here, the election pledge having been met. There are still young people of talent and potential who do not see their potential fulfilled. There are too many adults who cannot read and write properly who want to work. We need to help them get the skills they need. There are lone parents still finding it hard to match work and family. We have to help them too. There are still many disabled people who could work and want to work, and we have to help them too. So the work of the New Deal is not complete. It goes on. It is one of the Government’s proudest achievements. I want it to do more.

As Gordon and David will make clear, it will do more.

And as Alistair will make clear we will also continue to bear down on the costs of social and economic failure, so that we have more to invest and continue to marry opportunity and responsibility.

Other 2000 Speech transcripts


March 5th 2004

Speech given by the prime minister in Sedgefield, justifying military action in Iraq and warning of the continued threat of global terrorism.

No decision I have ever made in politics has been as divisive as the decision to go to war to in Iraq. It remains deeply divisive today. I know a large part of the public want to move on. Rightly they say the Government should concentrate on the issues that elected us in 1997: the economy, jobs, living standards, health, education, crime. I share that view, and we are. But I know too that the nature of this issue over Iraq, stirring such bitter emotions as it does, can’t just be swept away as ill-fitting the pre-occupations of the man and woman on the street. This is not simply because of the gravity of war; or the continued engagement of British troops and civilians in Iraq; or even because of reflections made on the integrity of the Prime Minister. It is because it was in March 2003 and remains my fervent view that the nature of the global threat we face in Britain and round the world is real and existential and it is the task of leadership to expose it and fight it, whatever the political cost; and that the true danger is not to any single politician’s reputation, but to our country if we now ignore this threat or erase it from the agenda in embarrassment at the difficulties it causes.




Our response to the September 11 attacks has proved even more momentous than it seemed at the time. That is because we could have chosen security as the battleground. But we did not. We chose values. We said that we did not want another Taliban or a different Saddam Hussein. We knew that you cannot defeat a fanatical ideology just by imprisoning or killing its leaders; you have to defeat its ideas.

In my view, the situation we face is indeed war, but of a completely unconventional kind, one that cannot be won in a conventional way. We will not win the battle against global extremism unless we win it at the level of values as much as that of force. We can win only by showing that our values are stronger, better, and more just than the alternative. That also means showing the world that we are evenhanded and fair in our application of those values. We will never get real support for the tough actions that may well be essential to safeguarding our way of life unless we also attack global poverty, environmental degradation, and injustice with equal vigor.

The roots of the current wave of global terrorism and extremism are deep. They reach down through decades of alienation, victimhood, and political oppression in the Arab and Muslim world. Yet such terrorism is not and never has been inevitable.

To me, the most remarkable thing about the Koran is how progressive it is. I write with great humility as a member of another faith. As an outsider, the Koran strikes me as a reforming book, trying to return Judaism and Christianity to their origins, much as reformers attempted to do with the Christian church centuries later. The Koran is inclusive. It extols science and knowledge and abhors superstition. It is practical and far ahead of its time in attitudes toward marriage, women, and governance.

Under its guidance, the spread of Islam and its dominance over previously Christian or pagan lands were breathtaking. Over centuries, Islam founded an empire and led the world in discovery, art, and culture. The standard-bearers of tolerance in the early Middle Ages were far more likely to be found in Muslim lands than in Christian ones.

But by the early twentieth century, after the Renaissance, the Reformation, and the Enlightenment had swept over the Western world, the Muslim and Arab world was uncertain, insecure, and on the defensive. Some Muslim countries, such as Turkey, made a muscular move toward secularism. Others found themselves caught up in colonization, nascent nationalism, political oppression, and religious radicalism. Muslims began to see the sorry state of Muslim countries as symptomatic of the sorry state of Islam. Political radicals became religious radicals and vice versa.

Those in power tried to accommodate this Islamic radicalism by incorporating some of its leaders and some of its ideology. The result was nearly always disastrous. Religious radicalism was made respectable and political radicalism suppressed, and so in the minds of many, the two came together to represent the need for change. They began to think that the way to restore the confidence and stability of Islam was through a combination of religious extremism and populist politics, with the enemies becoming “the West” and those Islamic leaders who cooperated with it.

This extremism may have started with religious doctrine and thought. But soon, in offshoots of the Muslim Brotherhood, supported by Wahhabi extremists and disseminated in some of the madrasahs of the Middle East and Asia, an ideology was born and exported around the world.

On 9/11, 3,000 people were murdered. But this terrorism did not begin on the streets of New York. Many more had already died, not just in acts of terrorism against Western interests but in political insurrection and turmoil around the world. Its victims are to be found in the recent history of many lands: India, Indonesia, Kenya, Libya, Pakistan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, and countless more. More than 100,000 died in Algeria. In Chechnya and Kashmir, political causes that could have been resolved became brutally incapable of resolution under the pressure of terrorism. Today, in 30 or 40 countries, terrorists are plotting action loosely linked with this ideology. Although the active cadres of terrorists are relatively small, they exploit a far wider sense of alienation in the Arab and Muslim world.

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