A Million Jobs
The first phase of the campaign is a major apprenticeships drive. The party’s ambition is to double the number of companies offering apprenticeships from 100,000 to 200,000.
Campaigning ‘Action Days’ will take place across the country tomorrow [Saturday], with MPs and local parties highlighting the work they and the party nationally are doing to help create jobs and apprenticeships in their local areas.
Commenting, Liberal Democrat Leader and Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg said:
“Britain is creating jobs. I know it doesn’t always feel like it – a lot of families are still feeling the pinch. But since the Liberal Democrats came into Government in 2010, we’ve helped British businesses create more than a million jobs. Now we want to help them create a million more.
“That will mean an unrelenting focus from Government for the next two years. The country is on a jobs mission and I’m determined the Liberal Democrats will lead it.
“We want more jobs for young people; more jobs outside of London; more jobs in high skilled manufacturing and the high growth industries of the future; more green jobs and more rural jobs too.
“We’ve already done a lot – investing billions in science, advance manufacturing and renewable energy, as well as creating work by investing in roads, railways and homes. Our Regional Growth Fund is providing money to firms around the country. And we’re offering £2,000 cash back to employers on the tax they pay on their employees, making it easier to take people on.
“But we need to do more – starting with a major apprenticeships drive. More and more young people are learning the skills they need for well-paid careers, not just in a classroom or lecture theatre, but in the office or on the shop floor – and they’re getting paid for it.
“It’s an old idea to help build a new economy. Not only do apprenticeships create new opportunities for young men and women, but companies get the loyal and capable staff they need to compete and expand. It works for all kinds of industries – from construction to catering; from advanced engineering to accounting.
“Vince Cable and I made this a priority when we came into office and the Coalition is investing record sums in helping firms hire and train apprentices. We’re also cutting red tape so it’s easier for smaller firms to take people on.
“But there are still firms and young people missing out. We have nearly five million businesses in the UK, but little over 100,000 currently offer apprenticeships. We need to be more ambitious – I want to see that number double to 200,000. Over time, I want to see apprenticeships viewed as a much more mainstream route to work. They’re a crucial building block for the stronger economy and fairer society we all seek, enabling everyone to get on in life.”
Commenting on the publication of Helena Morrissey’s independent report ‘Processes and culture within the Liberal Democrats and recommendations for change’, Liberal Democrat Leader and Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg said:
“I’m very grateful to Helena Morrissey for her very thorough report.
“It makes sobering reading. It shows that stretching over a 20 year period a series of mistakes were made which left a number of women feeling seriously let down and for that there is absolutely no excuse whatsoever.
“The report also shows that the individuals who dealt with their complaints had the right motives, but there weren’t the right processes in place to support the women who’d come forward. And as Leader of the Liberal Democrats I take responsibility for that. That’s why we’ve made a number of big changes in the party in recent years and why we must and will do more.
“Let me be clear: the Liberal Democrats must be a party where even a hint of sexism is taken seriously; where every allegation of harassment is dealt with properly; and where there can be no fear that power or position can be abused.
“Helena Morrissey herself confirmed that we have made significant steps in fixing these problems and she confirmed that there’s no cover up of any error or wrongdoing.
“But she’s right to say that there’s more we should do and that’s why we must now speed up the process of change within the party. It’s why I can confirm that we will implement all her recommendations – in full and without any delay. It’s why I’ve asked Tim Farron, the President of the Liberal Democrats, to tell me how and when these changes will occur, and Helena Morrissey herself will come back in a year to check on the progress that we’ve made.”
Liberal Democrats Chief Executive, Tim Gordon emailed Party Members:
“Today Helena Morrissey published the report of her independent inquiry into allegations made in February that the Party had failed to respond adequately to complaints and warnings of alleged sexual harassment.
“The report concluded – and the Party has accepted – that, despite recent improvements, and despite the fact that the report is clear that those with whom issues were raised acted in good faith, it failed to deliver the procedures needed in a modern organisation to respond adequately to all those involved.
“Helena has made some clear practical recommendations which as Chief Executive I will work with the Leader and President to implement in full.
“These include changes to the guidelines throughout the Party for handling bullying and harassment, the appointment of a dedicated member of staff for complaints processes, and raising performance and standards through regular surveys.
“Helena recommends raising the priority given to complaint resolution, encouraging formal submission and improvements to processes for handling them.
“She also has suggestions for ensuring that women and minorities are valued, tackling under-representation and measuring progress.
“Helena recognises in her report that as a Party we are in many regards like a family. We do not want to lose this.
“However, we are also an organisation operating in the 21st Century, and it is imperative that we have the processes in place to reflect the responsibilities and standards that you rightly should expect - not to mention the values and ideals that brought us together in the first place.
“We must now work together to achieve that outcome.”
New bill of rights to help businesses and consumers
Measures to enhance consumer rights and make them easier to understand, which will boost the economy by £4 billion over the next decade, have been unveiled today by Consumer Minister Jo Swinson.
The proposals, outlined in the draft Consumer Rights Bill, streamline overlapping and complicated areas from eight pieces of legislation into one consumer Bill. They also introduce new rights for consumers and businesses. Currently consumers spend more than 59 million hours a year dealing with goods and services problems. This deregulatory measure will reduce the effort consumers and businesses have to make to resolve problems.
Under the draft Bill consumers will have the right to:
- get some money back after one failed repair of faulty goods (or one faulty replacement)
- demand that substandard services are redone or failing that get a price reduction
- get a repair or a replacement of faulty digital content such as film and music downloads, online games and e-books.
- The draft Bill also proposes a set 30 day time period for when consumers can return faulty goods and get a full refund.
Business, consumer groups and enforcement bodies have engaged extensively in developing these proposals and further scrutiny of them is now welcomed to ensure they are as effective as possible.
Consumer Minister Jo Swinson said:
For too long the rules that apply when buying goods and services have been murky for both consumers and businesses. The situation is even worse in relation to digital content.Which? Executive Director, Richard Lloyd, said:
It is about time consumers knew what their rights are and businesses have clearer information on what is expected of them when problems inevitably do arise. That is why we have put clarity and fairness at the heart of the proposed Consumer Bill of Rights.
We want to make sure consumers are confident about their rights in everyday situations be it their washing machine breaking down or an online game they purchased always crashing. This will also benefit businesses as they are going to spend less time working out their legal obligations when they get complaints from customers.
The new Bill of Rights will bring consumer law into the 21st century at last, making it easier for everyone to know their rights and giving people more power to challenge bad practices. There are many welcome measures in the Bill, including reforming the law on unfair terms and conditions and giving consumers clear rights when digital downloads go wrong. This will be good for consumers and good for bsinesses that try to do the right thing by their customers.British Retail Consortium Director General, Helen Dickinson said:
The BRC has been pleased to be able to co-operate with consumers, enforcers and the government in the development of the Bill from the beginning.
We broadly welcome the attempt to clarify consumer rights when a product is defective; to introduce a proportionate system of redress for consumer protection issues led by enforcers; and in particular to define a consumer protection regime for digital content for the first time in the absence of a fully harmonised EU approach.
Reputable retailers usually solve problems without the need for legal intervention but this Bill helps to clarify the law.New measures in the draft Bill that will benefit businesses include:
We look forward to the discussion on the draft and to continuing to work alongside BIS as it undergoes pre-legislative scrutiny.
- A new requirement for enforcers such as Trading Standards Officers to give reasonable notice to businesses when carrying out routine inspections, reducing costs to business
- Faster and lower cost remedies for businesses who have been disadvantaged from breaches in competition law
- A reduction in on going training costs - businesses will spend less time understanding their obligations or considering different scenarios when training staff.
- You play a ‘freemium’ computer game and have spent quite a bit of money on in-app purchases to improve your character. You’ve also earned some points through game play which you also used to build your character. Ever since you last upgraded your character, following an in-app purchase, the game has failed to work properly. You would be entitled to a repair or a replacement because even though the game was “free”, the in-app purchase was not working as expected. If a suitable repair or replacement is not possible then you would be entitled to some money back.
- You hire builders to re-do your bathroom. They start the work but there are problems with debris left in other areas of the house and disruptions to your water supply. Even when finished, the work is not what you expected and the shower leaks to the room below. Under the new Consumer Rights Bill, you can require the builders to make good the problems, if they can do so within a reasonable time, or get a price reduction or refund.
- You buy a new desk chair, but four weeks later you find that one of the armrests is loose and can’t be tightened. Under the Bill, you would have a right to reject the chair within the 30 days and get a full refund.
Nick Clegg to announce new Local Growth Committee
The Local Growth Committee will bring together the Secretaries of State from all the key economic departments, bringing together the ministerial groups previously chaired by the DPM on the Regional Growth Fund (RGF) and City Deals. It will provide oversight across the local growth agenda to drive jobs and growth across England.
Potential agenda items include the implementation of the 1st wave of City Deals, signing off the 2nd wave of City Deals and allocation of RGF money. It is also likely to discuss the design and implementation of the Single Local Growth Fund and look at cases where infrastructure policy could impact upon particular localities.
The DPM will chair the committee with Chancellor George Osborne as deputy chair. Other members will include Vince Cable, Michael Gove, Eric Pickles, Ed Davey, Patrick McLoughlin and Danny Alexander. The Committee will meet on ad-hoc basis but intends to meet for the first time before the summer recess.
Nick Clegg will make the announcement at a dinner in Sheffield this evening marking the 100th anniversary of the discovery of stainless steel.
Economic benefits of offshore oil and gas to be maximised
The economic benefits of offshore oil and gas production, for energy security, jobs, tax revenue and growth are set to be maximised, as Government announced the start of an independently-led review today.
The UK’s oil and gas industry is of vital national economic importance, supporting 440,000 jobs, and stimulating business, innovation and skills. Some 41 billion barrels of oil and gas have already been produced from the UK Continental Shelf (UKCS) and we must maintain our momentum and make the most of the huge opportunity that the UKCS still represents.
The review will be led by Sir Ian Wood, who will undertake full analysis, and work with industry leaders and Government to make recommendations for improving the future economic recovery of UKCS oil and gas.
Secretary of State Edward Davey said:
“Although investment levels are rising strongly, the UKCS is one of the most mature basins in the world and therefore faces unprecedented challenges.
“Our offshore infrastructure is getting older, and we are seeing a decline in the rate of exploration and in the amount of oil and gas that is being recovered.
“All these issues need to be addressed if we are to stimulate innovation in this sector and see maximum economic benefit for the UK in the decades ahead.
Nick Harvey's Gurkha Reserves Campaign
"The MoD plans to fully integrate 30,000 fully-trained Reserves into the Regular Army by 2020, but this is going to be a real challenge which we need to do more to achieve. Surprisingly, Gurkhas aren't currently recruited into the Reserves automatically on leaving service - unlike other soldiers.Click the image for more pictures
"We've got to retain the Gurkhas' unique skills and recognise their brave and dedicated service to this country by putting them into the Reserves. They can then lead the way in building the TA and the Regular Reserves into a new, rejuvenated and deployment-ready Future Reserves."
No credible Labour plan on the economy - Stephen Williams
“There was nothing in this speech to demonstrate Labour have a plan on the economy. Labour left a record deficit, youth unemployment that had increased by 40% on their watch and a broken economy that had been focused on financial gamblers in the City of London for too long.
“Liberal Democrats are working in the Coalition Government to repair the damage done by Labour and build a stronger economy in a fairer society, enabling everyone to get on in life.
“We are creating jobs across the country through the Regional Growth Fund and Vince Cable is overseeing a record rise in apprenticeships, helping 1.2m people gain the skills and experience necessary for a successful career.
“We have made the tax system fairer than it has ever been for the low-paid, with people on national minimum wage seeing their tax bill cut in half and 20m working people are paying £600 a year less than they were under Labour.
“Empty speeches dressed up as economic plans will not convince the British people to trust Labour again.”
Ed Davey: The Energy Bill overwhelming majority is great news
“The positive vote for the Energy Bill is one of the biggest majorities this Government has seen.
“This overwhelming majority is great news as the Bill now makes its way through the House of Lords.
“A clear message has been sent to investors that we are providing the security they need to work with us to revolutionise the energy sector and produce cleaner energy, keep the lights on and people’s bills down.”
Ed Davey: Climate Change, Acting on the Science
It’s a great pleasure to be here today supporting the work of the Met Office and your partners.
In a previous guise in the Business Department, I had Ministerial responsibility for the Met Office.
I’m proud of that association.
And Britain should be proud of its Met Office and our national excellence in weather and climate science.
If there is one thing we Brits know about, it’s weather.
So it’s unsurprising that we created a weather forecasting service that is the envy of the world.
World class scientists doing world class work across the gamut of climate science.
With the backing it receives from Government and in collaboration with the academic community, including people represented here, the Met Office Hadley Centre is a key component of the UK’s national climate capability.
And this is a resource not just for Britain, but as we have heard about today, a resource for other countries too.
I applaud this initiative, the Met Office working alongside the Natural Environment Research Council and the Environment Agency, to build the Climate Service UK based on your record together of delivering climate data, science research and sound, evidence-based advice.
The Climate Service UK will, I’m sure, become an essential framework for advising on the risks and opportunities of a changing climate at home and abroad.
Here at home, yesterday, we marked a milestone in our modern history.
The 60th anniversary of the coronation Queen Elizabeth II.
Much has changed during her reign – not just in Britain, but across the globe.
There are more of us.
The population of Britain has increased by around a third.
In that same time, the global population has close to trebled to over 7 billion people.
Inevitably, as a planet we consume more.
Britain’s own energy use has increased by around 40% since the 1950s.
But global energy use is rising more quickly – doubling in the last 30 years alone.
And, as we have heard from the scientists here today, our climate has been changing – and is continuing to change.
Since the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II, average global surface temperature has risen by around ½ a degree Celsius.
All these changes are connected.
The rise in population accompanied by increasing development has fuelled a rise in energy consumption – the vast majority of it supplied by fossil fuels - which has meant more carbon in the atmosphere - which has meant a warmer planet.
The facts don’t lie, the physics is proven.
Climate change is real and it is happening now.
That’s what I want to talk about today – the science of climate change and the action we need to take limit it to manageable proportions.
So let me start with the science.
We reached another milestone this spring.
Carbon dioxide briefly reached 400 parts per million in the atmosphere - 40% higher than before the industrial revolution and most likely higher than at any point in the last 3 million years.
The physics is clear: greenhouse gas emissions trapped in the atmosphere have direct consequences: increasing temperatures; less ice and snow; sea levels rising; more risk of extreme weather to name but a few.
Forecasts of the rate at which the world will warm in the future may differ – but all the traffic is in one direction.
The decade between 2000 and 2010 was the warmest in the global temperature record - warmer than the 90s, which was warmer than the 80s, which was warmer than the 70s.
And if we continue to pump greenhouse gases into the atmosphere at the rate we are now, this will continue and will get worse.
On emissions, I agree with what Oxford’s Professor Myles Allan wrote last week in the Mail on Sunday:
“As almost everyone agrees, they still have to come down.”
And how do we know all this to be true?
To coin a phrase, “it’s the science, stupid.”
It’s what the evidence tells us.
As an example, a recent survey of over 12,000 peer-reviewed climate science papers provides a startling picture of the consensus that exists in our scientific community.
97% of the climate experts who expressed an opinion agree that human activity is driving global warming.
Just 3% question man’s contribution.
Let me quantify that for you.
If this was a general election vote, 97% of the vote would generate 630 MPs, the 3% just 20…..
………under a system of proportional representation of course.
Surveys like this are, of course, indicative rather than definitive, but when, as a policy maker, I am confronted with the evidence supported by such an overwhelming scientific consensus, I am clear, I am with the 97%.
And it frustrates me that there remains the need to confront those who loudly deny the basic proposition and seek to turn the public against the action required to meet the challenge.
Of course there will always be uncertainties within climate science and the need for research to continue.
The world’s climate is one of the most complex and chaotic natural systems.
Forecasting and modelling will never be 100% perfect.
There will be divergences between modelling systems, re-appraisals of evidence or adjusted projections.
Healthy scepticism is part of that process.
We make progress by building on what we know, and questioning what we don’t.
But some sections of the press are giving an uncritical campaigning platform to individuals and lobby groups who reject outright the fact that climate change is a result of human activity.
Some who even deny the reality of climate change itself.
This is not the serious science of challenging, checking and probing.
This is destructive and loudly clamouring scepticism born of vested interest, nimbyism, publicity seeking contraversialism or sheer blinkered, dogmatic, political bloody-mindedness.
This tendency will seize upon the normal expression of scientific uncertainty and portray it as proof that all climate change policy is all hopelessly misguided - from pursuing renewable energy to emissions targets themselves.
By selectively misreading the evidence, they seek to suggest that climate change has stopped so we can all relax and burn all the dirty fuel we want without a care.
This is a superficially seductive message, but it is absolutely wrong and really quite dangerous.
Take the issue that the Head of the Hadley Centre, Prof. Stephen Belcher addressed in his talk: the smaller than expected rise in average global surface temperature in the last decade.
As has been explained today, this pause in surface temperature is a false summit.
We have seen this before in the recent past, periods with little warming after which global temperatures have continued to rise.
The early 20th century and a period around the 1950s for example.
These are consistent with climate models which show similar plateaus.
Nothing in the basic physics of climate change has altered.
And surface temperature is but one indicator among many.
As a whole, the Earth continues to heat up.
The seas have continued to warm and sea levels to rise.
Arctic ice continues its long-term decline.
We have continued to see record-breaking weather events around the globe, and while each instance cannot be accurately attributed to climate change, we see the pattern and it should be a warning to us all what is at risk.
So climate change is most definitively not in reverse.
Unless we do something about it, the world is going to continue to get warmer and warmer – and the consequences for future generations will be severe.
The science tells us we cannot afford to relax, let up or wait for a miracle.
Those who argue against all the actions we are taking to reduce emissions, without any serious and viable alternative, are asking us to take massive gamble with the planet our children will inherit, in the face of all the evidence, against overwhelming odds.
No Government worth its salt would take that gamble.
And no political party worth voting for would make that argument.
So let me turn to how, politically and practically, this Government is getting on with bringing emissions down
The goal has to be led by the science too.
Our main challenge is to agree international actions that will reduce emissions enough to avoid really dangerous climate change, keeping global temperature rise to no more than 2 degrees above pre-industrial levels.
This is the level at which it is widely accepted that society can adapt to climate change.
Not without significant challenge and change, but manageable.
And to meet this scenario, we need to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions by at least 50% by 2050, with greater cuts for the developed world, where per capita emissions are highest.
Every year we delay, the harder the target will be to reach, and the more severe the action required.
That is why the deadline of 2015 for a global deal for binding emissions reductions is really make or break.
Everything that we do between now and then has to be geared towards achieving success.
Let me set out how the UK is determined to make this happen by taking action at home, in Europe and on the global stage.
UK leading by example
Here in Britain, building on the groundbreaking Climate Change Act of 2008 enacted under the previous Government, we are now acting to meet the domestic emissions targets we have set ourselves.
The Carbon Plan sets out how we will achieve an 80% reduction by 2050.
Progressively decarbonising our energy sector, our transport, our economy.
Become much more energy efficient.
Encouraging the development of a diverse mix of low-carbon technologies, and lower-carbon fuels like gas, to meet our goals.
And this diversity is key.
We need to tap into all the viable low-carbon technology available and help to drive its commercial viability.
We cannot afford to turn our back on a technology that can contribute to the overall goal of emissions reduction – nuclear for instance or carbon capture and storage or on-shore wind.
None of these alone represent a single silver bullet, we need them all to contribute.
There is strength in a diversity of low-carbon platforms – including the flexibility to veer towards technologies as they mature and become more efficient and cost effective.
Putting all our eggs in one basket now, relying on a single immature technology such as carbon capture and storage for example, would be extremely dangerous – another huge gamble I’m not prepared to take.
And we would be utterly foolish to reject the development and use of lower-carbon fossil fuels such as gas to replace dirtier ones such as coal as a staging post on the way – particularly if this drives down emissions while other technologies mature.
The Energy Bill going through parliament at the moment is a key part of our domestic response – enabling low carbon technologies to compete in the electricity market and attract investment.
The Green Deal is designed to create a similar boom market in energy efficiency too.
This approach is win, win, win.
Win for the climate change policy as we reduce carbon emissions and transition to a lower-carbon economy.
Win for energy security and consumers as we diversify the energy mix and progressively wean ourselves off the volatile global fossil fuel market.
And win for the economy – for growth, jobs, research and development, as we unleash £110bn of private sector investment to modernise energy infrastructure.
UK leading through Europe
It is not only setting an example at home, we are leading through Europe too:
Building the necessary alliances to push through a substantive structural reform for the EU Emissions Trading Scheme which is a key mechanism in helping us to meet our climate change goals.
And making the case for an ambitious EU emissions reductions target for 2030.
By being a strong voice for emissions reduction in Europe, the UK is shaping the global debate in the run up to 2015.
Under the UN climate negotiations Framework, the UK negotiates as part of the EU, providing us with greater credibility and weight when it comes to dealing with the super-economies of China, India and the US.
Together we represent 504 million people and 25% of the world’s GDP (compared with 63 million people and 3% of the world’s GDP as the UK alone).
The EU has a real opportunity to be the driving force behind a new global deal that will see international action complementing the UK’s domestic action.
That is why the UK is arguing for Europe to adopt an ambitious emissions reduction target for 2030 of 50% on 1990 levels as part of Europe’s approach to the getting a global deal in 2015.
And even if such a global deal doesn’t come about, the EU should aim for a unilateral 40% reduction.
These targets are achievable, affordable and necessary if we are to limit climate change to manageable proportions.
Countries should be free to pick the mix of technologies to decarbonise their energy that suits their circumstances and are most likely to succeed for them: from energy efficiency to new nuclear; from carbon capture and storage to renewable heat.
Above all, we must keep our eyes on the prize: a binding global deal to reduce carbon emissions and limit climate change to manageable levels.
Without the EU adopting an ambitious approach, a global deal will be virtually impossible.
That is why the ambitious emissions target for the EU that we are arguing for is so important.
Ladies and gentlemen, let me conclude today by referring back to where I began - with anniversaries.
There is another 60th anniversary we celebrated last month - that of the first climbers to reach the summit of Everest, Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay.
Since then – as climbing technology has improved, gear has got lighter, and safer routes mapped - over 3,000 climbers have made it to the top, including the first octogenarian who summited a fortnight ago.
This just underlines the determination of the human spirit – and the progress of human ingenuity.
But those who scale today find an Everest that is changing rapidly.
It is not just the detritus of the constant human traffic.
As new study has found that with rising temperatures on the mountain, the snowline has shifted upwards by some 180 metres over the last half century.
These are weathervane events that should spur us to act.
When it comes to tackling climate change, as a global community, we have made it to base camp.
Science has given us an understanding of the scale of the problem we face.
And is providing us with the tools to tackle it.
Now we need to find the will to make the climb.
To harnessing all the ingenuity we can muster.
To tap that determination of the human spirit.
To build the low-carbon societies that we will need to survive through the next century and beyond.
The next few years will be definitive in the fight against climate change.
I am determined that together we grasp this opportunity.
Governments, scientists, campaigners, businesses, journalists, the whole of society.
The 97% working together to meet our collective responsibility to pass on to future generations a planet that can sustain them.
Ed Balls’ proposed savings are a drop in the ocean
“Three years into this parliament and Labour still has no credible economic policies. Ed Balls’ proposed savings are a drop in the ocean.
“And he still refuses to acknowledge it was his party’s chronic mismanagement that got us into this mess. The idea Labour can demonstrate ‘iron discipline’ on spending is laughable.
“They oppose every cut but refuse to admit what their alternative would amount to – more spending, more borrowing and more debt. They should be honest with voters.
“Liberal Democrats are the only party who can be trusted to deliver both a stronger economy and a fairer society.”
Letter from the Leader: It won’t be easy
"It won’t be easy: there will be bumps and scrapes along the way.”
That’s what I said three years ago, in the joint press conference David Cameron and I gave on the first day of this coalition government. And as you’ll have noticed, some weeks are more bumpy and scrapy than others!
Some times we have fierce disagreements that leave people on both sides deeply frustrated. But given that this coalition is formed of two political parties with many widely differing beliefs and policies, that’s not exactly remarkable.
What I believe is remarkable is the resilience of this government, and the amount – bumps and scrapes notwithstanding – that we have achieved so far. We’ve shown that when it comes down to the real business of government, like creating jobs, balancing the budget and helping with the cost of living, we can act like grown ups and get things done.
From enabling people to earn a full £10,000 before they start paying income tax to helping create over a million new jobs, from investing billions in our schools to expanding apprenticeships on an unprecedented scale, this government has a record to be proud of.
Next week, Parliament is back in session, ready to start in earnest on this year's legislative agenda. Some critics have written it off already, accusing the government of paralysis. It's simply not true.
Yes: we have a few tense votes coming up on Europe and Equal Marriage. These are important and, for some, divisive issues. But though they may dominate the news for weeks, they will take up just a few hours or days of Parliamentary time. MPs and Peers will spend the vast majority of their year implementing big social and economic changes on which the coalition remains firmly united - changes that will make Britain stronger and fairer.
A high speed rail network. Fairer pensions. A cap on the costs of care for disabled and elderly people. Improved consumer rights and better protection for energy customers.
This is the major business of this government because our focus remains what it has been from day one: the economic and social repair job we know Britain needs, and which we set out in our coalition agreement. I won’t let the coalition be pulled off that course.
This government is the first peacetime coalition in Britain in 80 years. But the wait will not be so long again: I believe coalitions will become more and more frequent as people’s dissatisfaction with the old two-party politics deepens. Political parties of left and right are going to have to get used to not getting their own way all the time, putting aside their differences and working together in the national interest.
The bumps and scrapes will continue. But the achievements will, too, as this government works steadily on, building a stronger economy and a fairer society.
Green jobs, green growth, green investment, are what Liberal Democrats are delivering in Government
In the interview, he says: “The investments we’re making in low-carbon energy infrastructure, whether it’s wind, biomass engineering, solar, tidal or marine, they are all going to produce a lot of jobs.
“Green jobs, green growth, green investment, are what Liberal Democrats are delivering in Government. We’ve got to show that we’ve come up with new innovative ways to help people with their energy bills.”
These include ‘collective switching’, which enables communities and co-operatives to save money by purchasing energy from supplier together. He also says the UK could see 60,000 people employed as part of it by 2015, as new grants help to create a market in energy efficiency and retrofitting homes.
“DECC runs a competition called Cheaper Energy Together and we’ve seen local councils and community energy groups bringing people together to experiment with this new way of buying energy,” he says.
On the Coalition, he commented: “In the Coalition Agreement the Conservatives signed up to a lot of our green agenda, so I think it’s fair to say that there are parts of the Conservative Party who are quite comfortable with it. But it’s equally true to say there are some that aren’t.”
Letter from the Leader: Coming together
This was a week that put things in perspective. I know I speak for all Liberal Democrats when I say that our thoughts are with the family and friends of Drummer Lee Rigby – the British soldier attacked and killed in Woolwich on Wednesday. And I’ve made it clear, on the party’s behalf, that we are immensely grateful to our police, security services and armed forces, who do an extraordinarily important job.
That last few days have reminded me, and probably many of you, of a simple but important truth: when your values are under attack, you have to hold on to them even more firmly than before.
Yesterday, at the request of some friends in the Muslim community, I convened a meeting, in London, of representatives from different faiths, community organisations and secular groups. Before the speeches I held a private discussion with a smaller group, and I wish I could have broadcast it across the nation. Just days after a brutal act of terror, men and women from across the faiths and political parties, gathered around the table, each calling for the same thing: unity. It would have made you immensely proud.
And there have been other victories for our values this week. Getting the Equal Marriage Bill through the House of Commons was no mean feat and it’s something all Liberal Democrats should feel good about. Britain is now one step closer to being a country where all forms of love – gay or straight – are celebrated equally, and that wouldn’t have happened without our party.
The Coalition was also able to confirm that hundreds of Afghan interpreters who served bravely alongside British forces will have the chance to settle in the UK. Paddy’s been heavily involved with this campaign for a while. At one point, it was suggested that Afghan interpreters might not be granted this right, but clearly that was something I – we – couldn’t accept. Don’t forget, it was under pressure from the Liberal Democrats that the previous Labour government extended the right to reside here to Iraqi interpreters. When someone has risked their life to help our servicemen and women, it seems so obvious to me that we owe them a debt.
So it’s been a difficult week, but it’s also been a week which has reminded us who we are. This is an open, diverse and generous nation, where, in our toughest moments, we come together. That’s something no act of hate or violence will change.
London communities celebrate strength and unity at event hosted by Nick Clegg
The speakers at the Hugh Cubitt Peabody Centre in Islington were the Deputy Prime Minister, Shadow Justice Secretary Sadiq Khan, Conservative whip Lord Tariq Ahmad, former Army captain Afzal Amin, imam Shaykh Shams ad-Duha Muhammad of Ebrahim College and the co-chairs of Faith Forum for London, Canon Guy Wilkinson and Leonie Lewis.
Also in attendance were Colonel Hugh Bodington, Chief of Staff of the Army Headquarters at London District, and Commander Mak Chishty of the Metropolitan Police, who has been the force’s community liaison for the events in Woolwich.
Representatives of London’s political leaders included Damian Johnson, Chair of the London Assembly, Andrew Boff, leader of the Assembly’s Conservative group, Jenny Jones, leader of the Green Party Group and Stephen Knight, deputy leader of the Liberal Democrat Group. The local MP Emily Thornberry also took part, along with Deputy Leader of the House of Commons, Tom Brake.
Transcript of the Deputy Prime Minister’s speech
Can I thank you all very, very much for being here and can I thank, particularly, everybody at the Hugh Cubitt Centre, all the volunteers here, everyone from the Peabody operation. You’ve helped us to organise this at very, very short notice indeed.
It was a suggestion made to me by friends of mine in the London Muslim community just yesterday, that we should get together at a time of obviously heightened anxiety, given the horrific events in Woolwich. And to be able to gather together like this, given how busy everybody is, is a real tribute to everybody at the centre, and indeed to all of you.
We are represented here in all of the wonderful diversity that we know is modern London: different political parties, different faiths, different communities, representatives from the armed services, from the police. I really am very, very grateful to you all for being here. And I hope that – in fact I know that I speak on behalf of everybody here when I say that my heart goes out and my thoughts are with the family and the friends of Drummer Lee Rigby, who as so brutally and savagely killed in Woolwich.
I think in many ways, the fact that we’ve come together is much more important than what anyone’s actually going to say at the event because the fact that we’re here together from so many different directions, from so many parts of the diversity that is London is a – sends out a message.
It sends out a very, very simple message of hope over fear, of community over division and that is immensely important. I think that you’ve done all of that and that by coming together in that way, by sending out that clear signal, you really have provided a great service to all of the communities who are asking themselves searching questions in London and across the country today.
Because let’s be clear. People who inflict such random, savage violence in the name of some entirely warped ideology or some entirely perverted concept of religion in the way that we have seen on our television screens – which has been made all the more unsettling I think, because the individuals concerned dressed, spoke, appeared to all intents and purposes like so many other young Londoners that we might come across every day of the week.
Let’s be under no illusion. What they want, of course, is to sow that corrosive seed of fear and division. What they want is for governments and the authorities to overreact in their immediate reaction. What they want is for communities to turn inwards and away from each other. What they want, in short, is to spread fear.
Fear is an extraordinarily powerful emotion and when fear takes root, all of us as individuals, we will avert our gaze from someone who we might be fearful of, who we weren’t before. We might cross the street away from an individual who we’re not so sure about. We might worry about our children and about our families in a way that we haven’t done before.
It has a very, very corrosive effect on every part of our lives and we have a choice. We have a choice to either allow that powerful corrosive feeling of fear to seep into every second and minute and hour of our lives or we can make a choice that we’re not going to change our behaviour. We’re not going to disrupt normal life. We’re going to continue our life as before. We’re going to continue to reach out to each other. We’re going to continue to look people in the eye. We’re going to continue to be the diverse community that we are, and you have made that choice by coming to this event.
London has made that choice by celebrating this kind of event and it has shown once again how unbeatable London is in the face of this attempt to sow fear, sow division and sow mutual suspicion in our community. So I want to pay genuine tribute, to each and every one of you for making that choice. It is a positive choice and is the most powerful dignified reply and rejection of what we saw and what we heard on Wednesday in Woolwich.
Finally, before I ask the Deacon and others to speak for themselves, I want to pay special tribute to those amongst you who are leaders and spokespeople of our Muslim communities. The fact that all of you who’ve spoken out so very clearly and so very cogently and so very quickly to reject it utterly. As the Prime Minister quite rightly said, what we heard from these two individuals was a total unqualified betrayal of Islam, a religion of peace was being distorted, turned upside down and inside out, perverted in the cause of an abhorrent and violent set of intentions from those individuals.
As I heard from someone in a discussion we just had earlier this morning, terrorism has no religion because there is no religious conviction that can justify the kind of arbitrary, savage, random violence that we saw on the streets of Woolwich. So thank you for speaking out as forcefully as you have done. Thank you for speaking out as clearly as you have done for a great salvation religion, for your faith, and for the communities in which you live and in which you lead.
And in that spirit I would like to simply conclude by repeating a verse from the holy Quran, verse 32, chapter five. If anyone kills a human being, it shall be as though he killed all mankind, whereas if anyone saves a life it shall be as though he saved the whole of mankind.
Thank you very much.
Nick Clegg reaction to Woolwich soldier murder
“On Wednesday, we witnessed a shocking and horrifying murder on the streets of our capital.
"The whole nation's thoughts are with the family and friends of the victim.
"People across our country, whatever background they are from, will be united in condemning this attack and we will stand together, as we always do, in our response."
Extracts of Nick Clegg's Speech on Governing Until 2015
One minute, a Coalition Government publishing its third Queen’s Speech: fundamentally reforming pensions; tackling longstanding problems with social care; getting to grips with immigration. Big, bold measures that will leave a lasting imprint on millions of Britons’ lives.
The next? Westminster consumed by game-playing over Europe and gay marriage; MPs disappearing into a parliamentary rabbit warren, obsessing over this new tactic or that new trick: paving legislation, enabling referendums, wrecking amendments...
Anyone watching would be forgiven for asking: what are these politicians doing?
So it’s time to get back to governing; providing the leadership and focus the people of Britain deserve in these difficult times.
This morning I want to give three simple and clear reassurances; the three things I will work flat out to deliver to keep the government and the country on track.
Reassurance number one: Coalition until 2015
First, I am absolutely committed to this Coalition lasting until 2015 – as is the Prime Minister.
At the weekend I saw some rather creative coverage of comments made by the Prime Minister about the future of the Government.
In fact, he echoed exactly what both of us have always believed:
This Coalition has been remarkably radical; it still has work to do; and the best way for us to serve and improve Britain is by finishing what we started.
To those voices who say that it will be in either, or both, parties’ interests to prematurely pull the plug: I couldn’t disagree more.
In 2010 the British people dealt us this hand. And they will not forgive either party if we call time ahead of the election that has been legislated for in 2015 – destabilising the nation in the vague hope of short-term political gain.
I know some commentators think it would be clever to duck out six months early. But that doesn’t make any sense either.
The idea that the Liberal Democrats could suddenly win back those people who have never liked us going into government with the Conservatives is nonsense. As if we could pull the wool over people’s eyes, using an early exit to somehow erase the previous four and a half years.
And, frankly, that isn’t what we want. The Liberal Democrats look forward to fighting the next election as a party of government, on our record in government, and with a distinct vision of our own for the next government – having seen this one through until the end.
Reassurance number two: our priority is the economy
Reassurance number two: from now until that election, the Coalition will remain focused on the biggest task at hand – fixing the economy.
Of course Europe and gay marriage are important. These are issues my party cares deeply about.
But Britain is facing the most profound economic challenge in living memory. And now, more than ever, we cannot allow Parliament to be clogged up by these matters simply because they cause the biggest political punch ups.
Our priorities must be people’s priorities: boosting business, creating jobs, helping with the cost of living.
On the big ticket items the Coalition parties must continue to find a way forward together. Just as we have done on cutting income tax; dealing with the deficit; creating a million new jobs; transforming the education and welfare systems; providing unprecedented guarantees – £50bn worth – for infrastructure and new homes; greening our economy; creating record numbers of apprenticeships...
And there must be no doubt that this Coalition remains united on the end we all seek:
A stronger, rebalanced economy, built on sound public finances, with opportunities spread to every corner of the UK.
Two staunch opponents, working together to find answers to the most critical questions facing Britain today, pioneering major reforms that will stand the test of time. That’s what this Coalition has always been about – and it’s what it must continue to be about.
Reassurance number three: we will remain anchored in the centre
Lastly, reassurance number three: this Government will not vacate the centre ground.
There’s a mistaken idea, shared by both the Labour leadership and some in the Conservative party, that they decide what people care about in Britain today. The idea you can take a big marker pen and draw the centre ground wherever it’s ideologically convenient for you.
Ed Miliband thinks he can nudge the country to the left, luring people over with unfunded spending promises: more borrowing, bigger budgets, a risk-free, pain-free end to austerity.
Some Conservatives insist the centre of gravity has swung the other way. They seize on people’s reasonable concerns over things like immigration and welfare as proof the nation has shifted to the right.
Yet in reality millions of people across Britain continue to shun the extremes of left and right.
They want a stronger economy – but they also want a fairer society; not one or the other, both.
They want us to maintain stability by taking responsibility for our debts – but with the burden spread fairly.
These are the people who get angry when they see abuse of the benefits system – but they are still proud that their country provides help to the vulnerable, the sick and the poor.
They don’t believe it’s right when illegal immigrants get a free ride – but they still value the benefits that immigration has bought to the UK.
They emphatically agree that we should cut red tape to help business – but not at the expense of workers' rights.
They want more choice in our public services – but could never support privatising the NHS or profit-making in schools.
They think gay people should be treated as equal with straight people, and so able to get married – but they wouldn’t condone forcing a church to conduct those ceremonies against its will.
In the 21st Century, Britain’s centre ground is modern; balanced; inclusive.
It doesn’t face left; it doesn’t face right; it faces forward.
And if you stand in the centre ground, rest assured: so long as I am Deputy Prime Minister this Coalition will not walk away from you.
Coalition until 2015. Cleaning up the mess in the economy Labour left us. Anchored in the centre ground. Exactly as we set out in May 2010.
It won’t all be plain-sailing.
Some of the most divisive issues – like the UK’s role in Europe – are not going to go away.
We also have to be realistic about the other challenges that come with the later stages of Coalition. As we head towards the election there will be increasing pressure on David Cameron and myself to act as party leaders as much as PM and DPM: pressure to put party before nation. And I don’t pretend I won’t relish the moment I can hit the campaign trail on behalf of the Liberal Democrats in the run up to the General Election.
But here’s the bigger truth: whether you are the larger or smaller party, the fact is governing together in the public interest carries a cost. Making compromises; doing things you find uncomfortable; challenging some of your traditional support – these are the dilemmas the Conservatives are coming to terms with, just as my party has had to.
The next two years will not be without their hurdles and no doubt there will be disagreements between the Coalition parties along the way. Let’s be clear: sincere policy debates and ideological differences are, and will continue to be, a part of coalition.
But the parliamentary game playing we’ve seen over the last few weeks discredits the importance of these issues, and it’s an unwelcome distraction.
Our parties made a commitment to the people of Britain: we promised to govern responsibly and to stay focused on the issues that matter most.
That has not changed. It will not change. And I am more determined than ever that we finish what we started.
Nick Clegg’s Speech: The Rehabilitation Revolution
Almost ten years ago, I started my career on the Liberal Democrat Frontbench as Home Affairs’ Spokesman. Back then I argued that what was needed to reduce crime was simply a focus from Government on firm, practical solutions that addressed the root causes of crime and that were proven to work.
It’s a view I’ve retained. And an approach the Liberal Democrats have pursued in Coalition Government. Because ensuring people are free from crime and free from the fear of crime is essential to the foundation of any liberal society. And it’s why tackling crime effectively is central to our party’s vision of a Britain where everyone can get on in life.
Free From Crime, Free From The Fear of Crime:
Old or young, rich or poor, you are not free to live your life, realise your ambitions, or hope for the future, if you are scared of what lies just beyond your front door.
The populist rhetoric of the last Government played up public fears and promised to tackle the root causes of crime. But what actually happened, they implemented more often than not heavy-handed measures designed to chase headlines: policies that sought to restrict the freedom of criminals by taking away the civil liberties of innocent citizens.
Unprecedented expansion of state surveillance, a wasteful ID cards’ programme and the inclusion of innocent people on the DNA database - these policies reinforced the views of both commentators on the Right, who argue we’re a nation stuck in a spiral of moral decline, and those on the Left, who believe we’re in a state of irreversible social decline.
Liberalism Is The Solution, Not The Problem:
But, this pessimistic vision of Britain ignores just how far we’ve come as a country and how much things have changed for the better. Most importantly, they deny a brighter future for our children – a younger generation, which government data shows, is actually less likely to take drugs, drink or smoke.
In fact, I would argue that it is the more liberal, more tolerant and less violent society – in which we live now – which has provided us with the right conditions for a substantial and sustainable fall in crime
When I was growing up, images of communities torn apart by riots, football games destroyed by hooligans and violent clashes between police and striking unions routinely dominated the news. These images are largely consigned to the past.
Now...of course there are exceptions. The senseless riots in 2011 were a powerful reminder of just how vital our work together – the Government, the police and the public – is to make our communities safer.
But our country is far less accepting of such violence. We are more ready to challenge racism, sexism and homophobia.
And we remain fully committed to tackling crimes such as domestic violence, or other abuses that happen behind closed doors.
For example, last year I launched the government’s Teen Rape Prevention campaign. We have a long way to go, but action like this is hugely important in making sure that young people everywhere understand that sexual abuse isn’t something that happens in a dark alley, but can be something that happens in your own home, perpetrated by someone you thought you could trust.
This Government has been committed to tackling these hidden crimes. We have introduced legislation to criminalise forced marriage, introduced new laws against stalking and the Home Secretary is leading important work into the dreadful cases of sexual abuse against young people who are vulnerable and need protecting, including those in care.
But while this crucial work continues, it is important that we recognise that, given more freedom and given more choice, the vast majority of us are exercising it more responsibly. And we’re doing so at a time of tough economic conditions.
Greater liberty, in other words, has not frayed the fabric of society. It has brought us closer together as a society and has brought a long-term fall in crime.
Fall in Crime:
Under this Government, crime is at its lowest levels since independent records began. That’s fewer homes burgled and possessions stolen. Fewer communities blighted by vandalism. And fewer people hurt, or killed in violent attacks.
This continuing fall in crime is one of the biggest untold success stories of this Coalition.
Lots of people predicted that in tough economic conditions, crime would go up, as it has done in the past. But it hasn’t and we should be proud of that fact. It has been achieved without excessive bureaucracy or increasing intrusion.
We have done this by focusing, quite simply, on what works.
Freeing the Police to Cut Crime:
And much of that is down to the work of the police. In a time of economic austerity, where every public service is having to take its share of cuts, the police have stayed focused on cutting crime and they have succeeded.
Every police officer, every PCSO, should be extremely proud that, on their watch, crime has dropped.
Even as they have faced difficult decisions on police budgets and the pay and pensions provided to police officers. And they have done this with professionalism, with care and by developing relationships with their local communities that last.
By ending the target-driven culture of form filling and red-tape, the Coalition Government has ensured officers are free to do what works.
And it’s an approach that has delivered results: ensuring that England and Wales are now safer than at any time since independent records began.
Empowering Communities & Victims:
We are also empowering communities to take control of the problems in their own areas.
Take restorative justice. An approach championed by local Liberal Democrat Councils taking tough, but practical solutions that actually work in bringing down crime.
Now we’re in government, we’re introducing Neighbourhood Justice Panels in 15 places across the country. They help victims deal with crime in a way that benefits their community and makes the offender face up to the wrong they have done.
We’re also empowering the public to trigger action from the police and their local partners on persistent anti-social behaviour.
And we’ve ensured that sentences in the community are a genuine and tough alternative to custody, where locking someone up isn’t the best solution.
By making more offenders perform unpaid work in the community, we will make sure that they pay back to their community, while also being rehabilitated through meaningful activity that teaches discipline and hard work.
And through restorative justice, these offenders can make a real difference to a victim’s ability to cope and recover from the damage that they themselves have suffered.
Doing What Works:
Of course, community approaches are not suitable for every crime. And when your house is burgled, or your car stolen, it doesn’t feel like crime is falling. If you’re attacked, or abused, society doesn’t feel that safe.
So sometimes prison is the right option and those who commit serious offences should serve their sentence behind bars.
But the story shouldn’t end when the cell door slams shut. Prisoners’ time behind bars must be used to change behaviour for good, not just take someone off the streets for a while. A lesson must be learnt. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case.
Every year, reoffending costs our economy around £10 billion. Almost half of those leaving prison are reconvicted within a year.
Considering that the cost of sending a criminal to prison is more than it costs to go to Eton, we need a better return on our investment.
For years, the Liberal Democrats have argued that you only truly break the cycle of crime when you cut reoffending. That is why in Government, we’ve been determined to reduce both its economic and social costs.
And as their current Shadow Justice Secretary admitted himself, this is where Labour got it so wrong.
The last Government talked tough on crime, but appeared to believe that a ballooning prison population was a good thing.
So be tough on crime, sure. Be tough on the causes of crime, yes. But none of it matters unless you are also tough on breaking the cycle of crime. As a society, we want a justice system that punishes people where it must, but also seeks to change people where it can.
For me, criminal justice policy should not be ideological, but pragmatic. It should have a relentless focus on what works. So this Government is using our investment more wisely - to ensure our prison and probation services are equipped to produce better citizens, not better criminals.
We know that those on short sentences are most likely to reoffend and yet shockingly they are the ones who have, until now, received almost no rehabilitation, or support. That is why the Coalition Government is driving a rehabilitation revolution. It’s a programme of legislation and innovative public service delivery that will transform the way offenders are dealt with once they leave prison and address persistent reoffending.
It is a radical, but practical approach that has the potential – in my view - to leave a bigger, more lasting imprint on British society than almost anything else that the Coalition Government might achieve. And I’m proud of the changes we’re implementing now and our plans for the future.
A Never-Ending Cycle:
Imagine a young 21 year old offender released from a 6 month prison sentence for burglary today.
He’s been brought up in care. Since leaving there at 18, he’s not had a permanent place to live. In and out of trouble, he’s not found much in the way of work. He can’t read, or write well so he’s struggled to get a job. He also suffers from mental health issues and drug problems that are influencing his actions and have intensified in prison.
And just in case you think I’m relying on lazy stereotypes here, let me spell out what the statistics themselves say. Only around a third of prisoners are in work a month before custody. Fifteen percent of them are homeless. And it is estimated that around a quarter of offenders suffer from anxiety and depression. While 81% of them have used illegal drugs before entering prison.
Today, that young offender would leave prison with 46 pounds in his pocket and not much else. There would probably be no-one to meet him outside and nowhere for him to go.
If he’s lucky, he’ll find a temporary bed on a friend’s sofa. If not, he’ll end up homeless. And within days he could end up back in the Criminal Justice System after breaking into another house; stood in front of a custody sergeant, who probably already knows his name.
People tell him to get a job. But he doesn’t know how. And he has nowhere to live. Nobody will give him a chance. And the only people he can rely on, of course, are the ones that got him into this mess in the first place.
That has to change. Because it is the victims of crime and the wider public that reoffending impacts the most. Whether that’s because they are directly hurt by re-offenders’ crimes, or because they read about what’s happening and think it says everything they need to know about modern Britain.
A Rehabilitation Revolution:
This destructive cycle of crime is what we are working to break. If we are going to do all we can for the victims of crime and our communities, we can’t allow this problem to go unsolved. Our Offender Rehabilitation Bill receives its Second Reading in Parliament today.
It brings forward for the first time a mandatory requirement for the most prevalent re-offenders – those serving sentences of 12 months or less – to undergo a targeted programme of support on release to help them turn their lives around.
Because we know that the majority of those sentenced to prison are sent there for 12 months or less. And that of those almost 60% of them reoffend on release.
This will have a significant impact on women offenders also. Proportionally, more women than men are serving short-term prison sentences. Many of these women have complex needs. For example, they are more likely to have mental health problems than male prisoners, more likely to have reported experiencing some sort of childhood abuse. And they are more likely to be the primary carer for children. This Government is determined that these reforms will help women prisoners too.
Change will start in the police station and courts with experts on hand to identify whether a mental health or drug problem could be one of the main drivers behind this young offender’s behaviour. So he can be dealt with in a way that is appropriate for his illness and crime.
Following conviction, for example, he could be sent to a drug recovery wing in prison to help him get through withdrawal and the most intense, early stages of recovery.
Work in Prison:
The changes will continue in prison. We are putting more and more offenders like him to work in prison every year: making sure he doesn’t lie idle in his bed. That he is paying back to society and learning the pride and value that comes from a hard day’s work. What’s more, the money he earns from the work he does will go into a compensation fund for victims.
Alongside action to improve prisoners’ core skills, this will ensure that a young offender can get experience to help him find work outside the prison walls. And employers like Timpsons, Network Rail and the National Grid are already going into prisons and training prisoners in skills that can translate into real-life employment.
We’ve already increased the work hours of prisoners by over 800,000 hours last year.
And we want to get more businesses involved in these schemes as well as find more commercial work for prisoners to do, without undercutting local businesses.
Beyond the Prison Gates:
But the real change comes when our offender is released. A few weeks before he leaves, he will start working with a new provider organisation to organise and plan for his resettlement beyond the prison gates.
If possible, the young offender would have been sent to a prison close to his local community. So that any positive, personal ties that he did have - with family, or friends – could be maintained. If that can’t happen, we would then aim to relocate him closer to home towards the end of his sentence.
In prison, he’d work with the service provider to develop a programme of tailored support that fits his needs.
This could mean getting him a place on a basic skills course at the local college, or finding him somewhere to live.
They’ll ensure that from day one - if he is claiming JobSeekers allowance on release - he has a place on the Government’s work programme, with access to information and training that will help him get a job.
If required, they could also organise additional drugs treatment and testing to help him stay clean.
Most importantly, when he gets out there will be someone there to meet him. A mentor - someone experienced, potentially someone whose been an offender themselves and knows what it takes to build a life free of crime outside – who can help this young man through advice and support stay on the straight and narrow in that critical first year after release.
We are already seeing some positive results. For example, in Peterborough Prison where older, longer serving prisoners are actively mentoring those serving shorter-sentences. Given their experiences, these mentors are proving to be some of the most effective people to convince those who’ve made a mistake not to repeat it over and over again.
We’re not ideological about this approach.
What we want to see is something that takes and builds on the best from the public sector, the best from the private sector and the best from the voluntary sector to break the cycle of crime for good.
That is why we are reorganising the Probation Service, so that the public, voluntary and private sectors can work more flexibly and effectively side by side.
We want to extend the good work that is taking place all over the country, including right here. And we want to ensure that all of those with a strong track record in this area – including smaller regional rehabilitation charities, social enterprises or entrepreneurial staff from Probation Trusts interested in starting an employee mutual to bid for work – are able to get involved
That is why I’m pleased to announce today a package of tailored support to help fledgling mutuals and smaller rehabilitation organisations bid for contracts.
This includes access to around £7 million worth of funds to help these groups bid and support their work in communities. This is addition to the £10 million mutuals support programme, which is open to probation staff.
We are also making available to these groups valuable financial tools, legal advice, coaching and training and a network of peers and expert contacts to help take them through the bidding process.
We are serious about getting those who know what they are doing involved in our rehabilitation revolution.
So in conclusion, let me be clear, I am wholly committed to that Rehabilitation Revolution. And we are putting in place the legislation, innovative policies and providers to deliver solutions that work. That will tackle, for the first time ever on a mandatory basis, the complex issues and drivers behind the persistent problem of reoffending.
And provide the support needed to fundamentally change the lives of those released from prison.
As a society, I believe, we’re more progressive and we’re more liberal. These are the best conditions in which to cut crime. A society, in which the Government and public can bring about the necessary changes that will ensure a future, where more people are free from crime and the fear of crime: in short - a stronger, a fairer Britain.
Thank you very much.
Letter from the Leader: Notes from an island
High Speed Rail 2 will build a stronger economy and a fairer society
“HS2 is a huge leap forward for our rail network and will improve connectivity for generations to come.
“Liberal Democrats support HS2 because it will build a stronger economy and a fairer society, creating 40,000 direct and thousands more indirect jobs, as well as bridge the gap between the north and south. And that’s before you consider the economic benefits to the wider areas serviced by HS2.
“In assessing the value of HS2 we must look at all the overall benefits, including for passengers by increasing capacity on existing lines and significantly cutting the travel time, and to the environment by reducing our reliance on domestic flights and transferring millions of journeys from road to rail.”
Building a stronger economy
“While it is disappointing that overall unemployment is up, it is good news that youth unemployment has fallen as that will be encouraging for young people who are looking for work.
“To build a stronger economy in a fairer society, Liberal Democrats have been focusing on giving young people the skills and experience necessary for a successful career.
“That is why Nick Clegg has introduced the £1bn Youth Contract that will ensure young people have the opportunity to earn or learn and Business Secretary Vince Cable has overseen the creation of more than 1m apprenticeships.
“We will continue to work hard to get more people in employment and build a stronger economy.”