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CONSERVATIVE CONFERENCE: HAGUE SPEECH (SECOND PART)

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Second part of William Hague's speech to the Conservative party conference yesterday: ...
Second part of William Hague's speech to the Conservative party conference yesterday:

'And it's not just the hard-working family who doesn't get the support they deserve.

'It's the honest citizen, like the many I meet in my constituency surgeries who see a crime and do the right thing by reporting it, and who are then treated appallingly by the criminal justice system.

'They hear nothing for months; then they are summoned to court to give evidence only to find the case is adjourned; finally, they get to court and are told to wait around for hours in the same room as the person they are giving evidence against. And all because they did the right thing.

'My constituents and honest citizens like them don't want to see a Labour Government presiding over longer and longer court delays. They look to our Party to support them and to make sure the courts make a distinction between who's on trial and who isn't.

'And then there's the small businessman, like my father before he retired, who works long hours to build up a profitable business and, instead of getting encouragement from Government for doing the right thing, finds he spends his life as an unofficial tax collector filling in VAT forms and complying with an endless stream of regulation and red tape.

'He looks to the Conservative Party to set him free, to let him get on with doing the right thing and creating wealth and jobs for our society.

'These people who do the right thing rarely get the support they deserve from any Government. That makes them angry, and it makes me angry too.

'But what makes them feel not just angry but resentful is when they see people who do the wrong thing put on pedestals and rewarded.

'What kind of society are we living in when we see terrorist murderers getting thousands of pounds compensation from taxpayers because their cells were searched by prison officers uncovering their plan to escape?

'It sickens me to read again and again about someone defending their own property who ends up being charged when the criminal gets away scot free.

'It offends against a very deep British instinct. The sense of fair play.

'I want the Conservative Party to be the Party of fairness. The Party which understands that when British people speak of fairness they are speaking of something which is a million miles away from the so-called fairness of envious egalitarians and bureaucratic busybodies.

'I want the Conservative Party to be the Party that stands up for people who do the right thing.

'I want the Conservative Party to be the Party which rewards honesty, decency and diligence.

'I want the Conservative Party to be the Party which can distinguish between right and wrong.

'That is the British Way.

'And the Conservative way is the British Way.

'The British way is about understanding that freedom and democracy can only exist if they are protected by a constitution which upholds the rule of law, which holds Government accountable to the people and which maintains the integrity of the United Kingdom.

'Those are the principles in which the British people believe, which Labour's policies threaten and which the Conservative Party will fight to defend.

'It is difficult to overestimate the incoherence and confusion of Labour's constitutional plans. They have now introduced so many voting systems that if you were born in Scotland, live in Wales, work in London and want to vote in the European elections, you need Peter Lilley's brain to work out how to do it.

'But this Party has to understand that it will not be enough for us simply to campaign against change.

'Let me make it clear. We will not become an English Nationalist Party. We are a Party of the United Kingdom.

'We are not going to be English nationalists but we are going to see that the voters of England are fairly represented.

'I do not believe that the people of Bournemouth will long accept that Scottish MPs should vote to decide on health, or schools in Bournemouth, when their MPs have no say over such matters in Banff & Buchan.

'For the first time we will have to become the advocates of major constitutional change. It may be a change in the voting rights of Scottish MPs, it may an English Parliament in some form.

'Labour have undermined the stability of the United Kingdom. We have to restore its balance.

'And we're going to stop Labour turning the House of Lords into a giant quango.

'We're not opposed to change in principle. But would it really be better to replace a Chamber partly chosen by the Almighty with a Chamber entirely chosen by the Prime Minister? I can still tell the difference.

'We are happy to consider the merits of changes to the Upper House alongside the merits of the existing system.

'But we're not going to go along with changes that would leave Parliament weaker, the Government of the day more powerful, the House of Lords neutered and legislation rubber stamped by Tony's cronies.

'The British Way is to take pride in our traditions, to value stability, to resist ill thought through and unnecessary change. But it is also the British Way to do what has to be done to preserve democracy and ensure that Government is accountable to the people.

'That's why the Conservative way is the British Way.

'The British Way is to take pride in our nation's history and in the achievements of the British people through the centuries. But the best traditions of this country look to the world beyond our shores not with suspicion or resentment but with a buccaneering spirit of enterprise, self-confidence and adventure.

'So our national interests, our security, our trade mean that we can never be indifferent to, or aloof from, what happens in the rest of the world.

'Britain faces a massive challenge across the globe. We must maintain in good repair our relations with the United States. Our armed forces may soon be involved in action in Kosovo. We face volatile opinions about Britain in our traditional friends in the Middle East and elsewhere.

'These are important issues and whatever we do, we must not look inwards to Britain, we must look outwards to the wider world.

'Europe is part of that world. And British people know that our geography and history mean that the interests of the United Kingdom are intertwined with those of the other nations of Europe.

'Twice this century, in the trenches of the Somme, on the beaches of Normandy, our young soldiers sacrificed their lives to defend the freedom of our country and to liberate Europe from tyranny. I pay tribute to that generation of politicians, Ted Heath's generation, who worked tirelessly to heal a divided continent, who built NATO and the European Union, and who did so in order to spare my generation the destruction and slaughter which they had experienced.

'But half a century on, Europe has changed. The vision of a closely integrated federal Europe, which inspired good and honourable men in the aftermath of war, does not meet the needs of our continent today.

'We have a great opportunity. Our policy on the single currency is settled. Now that policy must become part of a positive and distinctively Conservative agenda for Europe, an agenda for a new generation.

'We need to reduce the shamefully high levels of unemployment in the EU by freeing Europe's businesses from red tape and social costs.

'We need to create a true common market and work for free trade with the wider world.

'We need to strengthen the new democracies of Central and Eastern Europe by welcoming them as full members of the European Union.

'For you do not measure European unity by the height of the barriers raised against the rest of the world.

'You do not build a sense of common purpose by taking power away from national parliaments.

'You do not build a Europe for a new generation by giving power to remote and unaccountable institutions in Brussels or Frankfurt.

'The British Way is to be in Europe, but not run by Europe.

'That's why the Conservative way is the British Way.

'In each generation the left of this country regroups. It leaves behind its old errors and disastrous programmes and adopts new ones. Different each time, but each time an attempt to make Britain something that it isn't, to make Britain somewhere else.

'And so in each generation the Conservative Party faces a new challenge. How to safeguard and advance the basic character, values and institutions of our country in the face of yet another new left.

'The challenge has rarely been more difficult than it is this time. But I think it has never been so important.

'For New Labour threatens so much that is important in this country. It threatens our freedom, our democracy, our prosperity, our independence. It has persuaded so many people who love these things to let down their guard and to stand by while this assault on the character of our country goes on.

'Well, we're not going to stand idly by.

'We're going to fight for the British Way

'We are going to change our Party. We are going to listen to Britain. We are going to make sure that we are in touch with the basic instincts of the British people.

'We are going to be in touch with a Britain that values its freedom and is beginning to resent the way that New Labour is becoming bossier by the day.

'We are going to be in touch with a Britain that wants decent public services and is beginning to realise that New Labour's way will not work.

'We are going to be in touch with a Britain that has a deep sense of fair play and will quickly realise that Labour do not understand it.

'We are going to be in touch with a Britain that values its stability and democracy and will be horrified when it realises how New Labour has undermined them.

'We are going to be in touch with a Britain that wants to be in Europe but not run by Europe.

'The time has come for us to do what the British people expect us to do, and take on this Government.

'The time has come for us to take off the gloves and punch our weight.

'The time has come for us to be all that we know we can be.

'The Conservative Party has shaped British politics for the whole of the twentieth century and you have given me the privilege of leading us into the twenty first century.

'Be assured we have no intention of being satisfied with reading that history. We have every intention of continuing to write it.

'Together that is what we shall do.'

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