Speech

Prime Minister David Cameron's speech at Rolls-Royce, Goodwood

Transcript of speech and Q&A with the Prime Minister, David Cameron, at Rolls-Royce, Chichester, West Sussex.

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

The Rt Hon David Cameron

It’s great to be here, thank you for the welcome, and I’m very proud to be the first Prime Minister to visit this great facility. And I want to congratulate you on what you’re announcing today: developing an SUV which means the safeguarding of jobs and livelihoods here at Goodwood, here in this business, is a very exciting development, and the British government will do everything we can to back and support you in the work that you’re doing. Because, frankly, what you’re doing here is something that our country needs more of.

We all know as a country we need to manufacture more things, we need to design and develop more things, we need to invest in technology and science. We need to train young people with apprentices. We need to get out and sell to the world, and all of those things, you are doing right here at Rolls‑Royce, and that is an absolutely key part of our economic plan.

The economy

Now, I just wanted to say a couple of things before taking any questions or points that you want to make to me, because these sessions should be interactive. And what I want to say is that we haven’t solved all the problems of the British economy in the last 4 and three quarter years, but we’ve been working to a plan, and I think that plan is making good progress. We inherited a situation where we had a massive budget deficit, much the biggest in Europe; one of the biggest anywhere in the world. We haven’t cleared that deficit, but we’ve paid down half of it, and we’re well on our way to getting Britain back in the black. That’s good progress.

Employment

We inherited a situation where far too many people were unemployed, where we weren’t creating enough jobs in our country. Since I became Prime Minister we haven’t solved – tackled all of unemployment, but we have got 1.85 million more people in work today than when I became Prime Minister. We’ve created, effectively, a 1,000 jobs every day since this government’s been in office. I sit round that European Union Council table with the 27 other countries; I was there last week. Britain in the last 4 years has created more jobs than the rest of Europe put together. So we’re on our way. And today the latest unemployment figures come out. And we’ve had another 100,000 increase in the number of people in work in our country. In fact, there are more people in work in our country today, and more women in work in our country today, than ever before in our history.

So, I’m not saying we have solved all our problems, but we are on our way. The deficit’s coming down, the jobs are coming, the production’s increasing, we are the fastest growing major economy in the Western world. And we’re also trying to help people, not just by getting good jobs, but also reducing people’s taxes. In Britain today, you can earn £10,000 before you pay any income tax at all. That has taken 3 million of the lowest paid people out of tax altogether. So jobs, livelihoods, taxes. But there are other things in an economy, and in a proper plan, that really matter. And, of course, key to that is schools and skills, so the next generation can really make it in the world economy.

Apprentices

Now, as I said, here you’re doing brilliant stuff. You’ve got 50 apprentices; I’ve met some of your apprentices, and Sam and Alice have completed their apprenticeships and gone on to well-paid jobs. And that’s what we want for more people in our country. So, in this Parliament we’ve trained 2 million apprentices…[Political content removed.] I want us to help not just the bigger firms, but also smaller firms get into apprenticeship training. And we also need to go on improving our schools. We’ve got great schools in many parts of our country, schools that are judged outstanding or good, but we’ve still got too many schools that are either inadequate or that require improvement [Political content removed.]

Infrastructure

The final part of an economic plan, alongside jobs and taxes and schools and skills, is investing in infrastructure. And you all know here in the south of England, with the A27, some of the challenges that we’ve got on infrastructure. We need to invest in our roads, we need to invest in railways, we need to invest in our port infrastructure, and we also need to make sure that super‑fast broadband is available to everyone in our country. And I just want to make one point clear, which is I know that people think that High Speed – HS2 is going to take all the resources in terms of infrastructure. It isn’t. In the next Parliament we’re going to spend 3 times as much on other road and rail schemes, including schemes here in the south of England, as we will on HS2. But the rebalancing of our country, and making sure we have growth and prosperity and jobs in every region of our country is absolutely vital to our long term success.

So those are the things that I just wanted to start with today: a very big congratulations and thank you to what you’re doing here at Rolls‑Royce; very best wishes with your SUV as it comes into production; congratulations on the jobs you’ve created and the training that you’re doing here – this is absolutely what we want to see more of in our country – and a brief explanation of the plan which is about jobs, and cutting people’s taxes and getting our country back to work, and making sure that we are exporting and succeeding and selling around the world.

I think the prospects for this country, if we stick to those plans, are good. [Political content removed] Yesterday we had the lowest rate of inflation since records began; today we’ve got the highest rate of employment since records began. That is a good double; that is a good result for the British economy. [Political content removed]

Thank you for listening, very happy to take points, questions about this, about Rolls‑Royce, about the economy, about what I had for breakfast or anything else in between. Don’t hold back. What normally happens is I leave and afterwards people say, ‘Well that’s when I should have had a real go.’ So don’t hold back; get stuck in. Questions please. Thank you very much.

Terrorism

Question

Hello Prime Minister. Obviously a, sort of, downbeat question really, with regards to what’s currently going on in the Middle East and Libya. [Inaudible] the media has now been suggesting that the ISIS group, or so‑called Islamic State, are now starting to look at Europe. What will the government do to safeguard us as a population, and our freedom?

Prime Minister

Yes. I think this is an absolutely vital question. This is the biggest threat that we face to our security and our safety. And, of course, if you look at the threat we face, you can see that it’s grown very strong in Syria and Iraq, and we can see on the news the very great dangers there are in Libya. But I think we need to rewind a little, and recognise where this threat comes from. The threat comes from a poisonous narrative of Islamist extremism, a sort of death cult, if you like, that wants to wage war against the rest of the world, and wants to kill and maim and brutalise people in our country. And it’s not a question of the threat possibly coming to Britain; that threat is here already. We’ve seen plots obviously carried out on continental Europe, but we’ve also had plots recently to try and behead police officers or members of our armed forces: plots that would – could have happened here in the UK, that were only stopped because of the brilliance of our police and security forces.

How do we address this threat? Well, there’s no one single, simple answer. We’ve got to address it in every way that we can. We’ve got to start at home; all of this needs to start with a real focus on national security. And we’ve got to make sure we challenge this radicalisation of young people taking part in our – taking place in our country. That means making sure it can’t happen in schools or colleges or universities, it means making sure that all public bodies have a duty to confront radical Islamist extremists, it means chucking the preachers out of our country when they’re spreading that sort of poison, which we’ve done with Abu Hamza and Abu Qatada. It means sometimes strengthening our own anti-terrorism laws so that we can intervene and stop these things happening. But yes, it also means not charging in and rushing into other people’s countries, but it means working with other partners to try and deal with the threat at its source, whether in Iraq and Syria or whether elsewhere in the world. That’s what, effectively, our operations in Afghanistan were about. We were trying to train up the Afghan army and police and security forces so they could take care of their own country’s security without the need for foreign troops, but stopping those countries becoming training grounds for terrorists.

But what I would say, and this is a depressing place to start, is this is something – this struggle against extremist Islamism is going to be a struggle not for years but potentially for decades. This has been going on since well before 9/11, you know, 14 years ago, and it is the struggle of our time. We can win it, because in the end this is a struggle about values, and I think the values we have, believing in democracy and freedom and free economies and the chance of people to have a voice and a role in their country, that is stronger than what these Islamist extremists offer: a poisonous narrative; the death cult that they offer. But it is going to be a generational struggle, and one that we’re going to be fighting, I think, for certainly my political lifetime but possibly beyond. But we should have courage that we have, in confronting these people, the strongest possible values, the best possible security forces, the law behind us and right on our side.

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Football

Question

I was going to ask you if you thought Arsenal were going to win the F.A. Cup really. But I suppose I could ask what do you think of Villa’s chances?

Prime Minister

Well, I’ve got – I’ve got a sister who’s an Arsenal fan, so she’ll be very happy. My son, he went all the wrong way. I took him to QPR versus Villa. Of course, QPR is my, sort of, local team in London. And I thought either he’ll be a Hoops fan or he’ll be a Villa fan. And he came out after the game – it was a bit disappointing game – and he said, ‘Dad, those teams obviously are not right for me. I’m going to be a Chelsea fan.’ So I’ve now got a Chelsea fan for a son, and an Arsenal fan for a sister. And worse than that, when I took my son to the Villa‑Chelsea game last year, Villa went down 8‑0, and at some stage the television camera panned on to me and there I was, with my son, actually amongst some Chelsea fans because some friends had given us some tickets. And so my son thinks it’s perfectly normal for 20,000 people to sing in unison after your team is 6-0 down, ‘Cameron, Cameron give us a song.’ So there we are. So I’m not going to make any predictions but I’m just hoping for a couple of Villa wins to lift us out of the danger zone.

Sorry, it’s not David Coulthard. But it is actually a good moment to celebrate not just what you do here, but the whole of the motor industry and the motorsport industry in Britain, because we are seeing, I think, a great renaissance. We got the strength of Formula 1, a lot of that in my constituency; almost all the cars designed and made here in Britain with incredible skills and engineering. We’ve got the luxury end of the car market that you represent here. And, obviously, others – I won’t mention names because I might get in trouble – in other parts of the country are also doing well.

And then, of course, we’ve got the mass car market where Britain is now once again a net exporter of cars. I’ve got some good news for you today. In the European league of car manufacturers, we’ve just overtaken France. This is good news. We make more cars in Britain than they make in France. We’ve overtaken Italy some time ago. We’ve now got, obviously, Spain and Germany in our sights in terms of that. But it’s a really important industry, because it’s an industry that involves high-end design, it involves science, it involves R&D, technology, exports, training. It’s one of the industries we want Britain to be a real success in. And we should try and be a success right from the very top, with Formula 1 and some of that high-end technology, right through the mass car market, because they’re all linked together. And if you – if you get the different parts of it right it can be a real driver for growth and for jobs and livelihoods in our country.

Apprenticeships and employment

Question

I recently completed an apprenticeship scheme here at Rolls-Royce, and Rolls-Royce is well known for its apprenticeships and graduate schemes. Are we doing enough in the UK to support the development of young, future talent in manufacturing and engineering?

Prime Minister

It’s a very good question. I think we are doing more than we were, but I think still not enough. I think – I’ve long admired the German apprenticeship system and the vocational education that they provide, and our aim has been to copy some of the best of that. And I think that is now beginning to happen. So, 2 million apprentices trained in this Parliament. [Political content removed] We’ve simplified the vocational, educational qualifications, getting rid of some of those that really weren’t very good and concentrating on quality. And we’re also building things called UTCs, university technical colleges, which are quite like German technical schools that will encourage people who want to go into vocational education and learn skills and then become apprentices. And so companies like JCB, for instance, have set up these schools themselves.

So there’s good things happening. But I think there are a couple of areas we still need to get right. One is the careers advice we give to people in schools. So often when I meet apprentices and I ask, ‘How did you hear about the apprenticeship?’ they’ll say, ‘Well, I found it online,’ or, ‘I knew a family friend,’ or, ‘I knew the business because it was nearby.’ I don’t get the answer enough, ‘I was told at school about the apprenticeship pathway, as well as the university pathway.’ And we need to explain both to people. And this is not a criticism of teachers, but most teachers did A-levels, filled out a UCAS form, went to university. They are very familiar with that path. And we need to make sure the careers advice in schools offers both the pathways. So we’re modernising that. We’re setting up a new organisation to pioneer good careers advice in schools.

We also need better information. When young people make a decision about what to do, I don’t think today they have all the information at their fingertips. So we are going to make available data that shows what your likely job outcomes are, what your likely pay is, if you go to this university or that university, if you do this course or that course, or if you do an apprenticeship.

I don’t want to get into your salary levels here, but all I know, I was at Dagenham, the Ford plant at Dagenham the other day, and I asked apprentices coming out a four‑year apprenticeship there what they thought they’d earn at Ford. And they said they hoped to be on £28,000, £29,000 at the end of their 4 year or 3 year apprenticeship. Now that is probably a better salary than you’d get if you’d done 3 years at university and got your starting job. So let’s make this information available, let’s make sure young people know what the choices are, let’s encourage small firms as well as big firms to do apprenticeships. But there’s a final thing we need to do, which is a change in culture, which is to celebrate more engineering, vocational and skills education as much as we celebrate academic education. If we do all those things, then I think we’ve got every chance of being a very successful industrial nation.

And what does all that mean? Why does all this matter? Well, in the end, it’s about making sure, Tom, that people like you have got the chance of a fulfilling job, a decent salary, the chance to build a future for yourself and your family, the chance to buy a home, the chance to find a good skill – school for your children. That is what it is about. It’s about your life chances and we have got to get that right by explaining to people when they are younger, about the choices they can make.

Question

Kind of based on that a little bit, you’re saying that there’s more women in work now [inaudible] which is great, but if you look around at the manufacturing plant, you can see that a majority of the guys here are guys and not women. So how would you go forward to get more women into manufacturing plants, not just apprentices but [inaudible]. Right from a young age you, kind of, get told, ‘That’s a boy’s job.’

Prime Minister

Yes. Well, we’ve got to change that. I mean, you are absolutely right. For too many people, and in the past particularly, it’s just been thought, ‘Well, that’s boys’ work,’ or, ‘That’s girls’ work.’ We’ve got to banish that attitude. It’s completely wrong. I mean, look at a plant like this and you can see that these jobs could be done by men or women. And we should encourage people to do what they think their talent can achieve.

So there’re lots of things here we need to do. Again, it’s setting expectations. In schools, a lot of people still think that engineering is all, kind of, you know, dirty work, and so not enough girls at school are studying the subjects that could lead them to be engineers. Now this is beginning to change, but we need to turbocharge that change: encourage more girls to study maths and science, encourage them to keep it on through to A-level, encourage people – girls to read engineering at university. These are all changes that are taking place, but anything we can do to speed them up would help.

And one of the best things businesses can do is to get into local schools – and I know you do this – and send that message out directly. So I hope when you get the chance, you’ll go back to the school you came from and tell them about what you’re doing here at Rolls‑Royce. You know, teachers do a brilliant job in our schools, but I think you can remember from school all the people from outside who came in and told you about their career: you remember the brilliant soldiers that come and talk about what they have done in the army; you remember brilliant nurses who tell you about their work in the NHS. Young people need to have the horizons stretched and opened by people going into schools and telling them about what these careers and these jobs involve. So there’s a role for you, as well as there’s a role for me.

Childcare

Question

My question’s actually linked to [the previous question] actually. I was watching the Inside the Commons TV programme last night. And I noticed there’s a nursery, and I am interested actually in your plans to support working mothers from the childcare point of view? And what your plans are [inaudible] elections?

Prime Minister

The good news is that Parliament is changing. There are many more women in Parliament. Our Parliament is becoming more representative. People from different ethnic minority groups in Britain getting the chance to serve in our Parliament. That’s happening.

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And one of the things that I think has put people off in Parliament, as perhaps in other jobs, is making sure it is possible to have good childcare arrangements. Now I think the best thing we can do here is actually to give people some tax relief on the money that they spend on childcare. So coming in later this year is exactly that, which could be worth as much as up to £2,000 per child that you have in childcare every year. Now obviously that doesn’t pay for all of the childcare; far from it. But if you combine the 15 hours a week that we are now paying for 3 year olds and 4 year olds and disadvantaged 2 year olds, and you add to that tax credits for people who are less well-paid, and you add to that the idea of tax relief on your childcare, up to £2,000 per child, I think that will help more families be able to make the choices that are right for them.

I am not someone who says, ‘Everyone has to go out to work,’ or, ‘Everyone has to stay at home.’ I want people to make the choices that they feel are right for them. But at the moment, too many families can’t make the choice because they look at the childcare bills, they look at what they can get paid and they can’t make them work out. And what we need is to support childcare more so that more people can say, ‘Well, I want to work,’ or, ‘I want to work more hours, and financially it works for me and my family.’ And I think the tax relief on childcare we’re proposing is the best way to do it.

Russia

Question

Thank you. Mr Prime Minister, Russia is a very important market within my region. So I’d be very interested to hear from you, where are we with Russia at the moment? And where do you see that going forward? And the second question I have, I think, it would be negligent of me not to ask you if you have ever driven a Rolls‑Royce?

Prime Minister

Right. Well, taking your second question first, I’m not actually allowed to drive a car. I have to be – my brilliant protection team who look after me and, inexplicably, they drive a Jaguar. I’m sorry about that. It weighs in at about 6 tonnes with all the armour it’s got on it. So it sometimes feels a bit like a Rolls‑Royce.

I haven’t driven a car for about 4 and a half years. I think I drove one on the Land Rover test practice site and didn’t crash, so I haven’t completely forgotten, but otherwise I don’t get to drive. I’ve never driven a Rolls‑Royce, so maybe one day that’s something I’ll get to. You’ve got a test track here. I can go for a spin. That would be fun. So no, I don’t get to drive at the moment,

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On the very serious issue of Russia, I’ll be very frank with you because of course, there’s a temptation, isn’t there, for every European country just to say ‘Let’s go on trading exactly as we’ve done with Russia. Let’s leave the responsibility for dealing with what’s happening in the Ukraine to someone else, and let’s turn away.’ I’m afraid I think that would be a terrible mistake. And so Britain has actually been leading the argument in Europe, saying that Russia’s behaviour towards Ukraine is completely unacceptable and consequences have to follow from that in terms of sanctions. So we put in place, progressively, a series of measures, whether it’s a ban on certain individuals travelling, or whether it’s freezes on their assets, and in some cases we’ve started the process of looking at specific goods and services that we shouldn’t trade in.

Now, I know this will cause business some concerns, because obviously we’re a trading nation, we want to be able to trade and invest around the world, and we do trade and invest with Russia. But the argument I would make is that if we turn a blind eye to what is happening in Ukraine, where effectively one country is challenging the territorial integrity of another country, because those Russian-backed rebels in eastern Ukraine, they are using Russian rocket launchers, Russian tanks, Russian heavy artillery. You cannot buy this equipment on eBay. It hasn’t come from somewhere else; it’s come from Russia, and we know that. And so we have to be very firm and strong about these sanctions, and say to Vladimir Putin, ‘What you are doing is unacceptable, and it will have economic and financial consequences for many years to come if you don’t desist with your behaviour.’ And the reason why I think business should support that view, is actually the greatest business interest of all is that we have a strong and stable economy, we have a strong and stable economic system in Europe, and we don’t allow people to breach all the rules, to bully their neighbours, to cause instability, because it’s that instability, in the end, that will be far more damaging for business.

So yes, there may be some short-term pain in terms of putting in place those sanctions, but it’s the right answer for us as a country that actually wants to have rules around the world that people obey, because as a trading country, as an investing country, global stability, global obedience to global rules is very much in our interest.

Question

I’m a quality specialist but I used to be an apprentice from 2008 till 2011. So my question is your intentions is that. So I think the technical schools and also the communications within the schools to encourage apprenticeships and everything is a good start. But then, what’s the – what’s the commitment from the government’s side to help small and big businesses to have a structure within the apprenticeship scheme in order to enjoy the same level of success at school? And then, sorry for a second question. The boss has asked me to – he’s a big Villa fan. He’s asked me to ask you a question. What you do think about their new signing?

Prime Minister

Well, on the second question I’m very hopeful that Tim Sherwood’s going to make a big difference. Obviously, in politics when you see teams change their management, that can make you a bit nervous. You think, you know – but look, I think he’s a very good guy, they’ve got some strong players and, you know, the thing about the Premier League: you only need a few wins to get you out of the danger zone, but you have to start beating the teams that are at your level or below. And we’ve been a bit of a way off that for the time being, but I’m hopeful that Tim Sherwood is going to turn it all around.

On this issue of apprenticeships, you’re completely right because big firms find it easy to deal with the bureaucracy, to set up training courses with colleges, to put in place what’s needed to run an apprenticeship scheme. Small firms have found it more difficult, and so one of the things we’ve done is introduce this thing called the ‘apprenticeship bounty’, where if a firm hasn’t had apprentices, it actually gets a bonus of over £1,000 for taking on its first apprentice, to get them back into the swing of doing things. We’ve tried to make it simpler to hire apprentices; we’ve tried to encourage colleges to engage with small businesses, to run the academic side of the course for them and to do it very well.

But there are some other things we’re looking at. And I think there’s one area where Rolls‑Royce could really help us, and that is looking at your supply chain and thinking, ‘Can you help us to encourage some of your small suppliers to take on apprentices, maybe by providing some of the training here at Rolls-Royce? Maybe by doing some of the work with us to help those small suppliers become apprenticeship-friendly companies as well.’

So there’s lots of things happening in this space: making it easier for small firms, encouraging those that haven’t done it before, incentivising the colleges,[ Political content remmoved] But I think another thing is this supply chain idea, where some companies are already starting to do that, and we want to make you – encourage you to do more.

Investment

Question

My question is relating to the – BMW have announced an amazing investment into this facility today. How important is this level of investment, both locally and nationally, to the UK economy?

Prime Minister

It is important. I mean, you always have to remember with these big firms, like your parent firm, is they can choose where they make their investment. They have to think, ‘Where am I going to get the greatest return?’ And so they look at Britain, and what we’ve got to do is make sure, when investors look at Britain, they see a country with brilliant skills, with young people that have got the skills and the talents that are really worth investing in. We’ve got to make sure that our tax rates are competitive: that if businesses come and locate here and invest here that they’re not going to be fleeced. We want them to pay their taxes properly, of course, but we want effective tax rates. We need good labour relations, making sure that we have good industrial relations, which we do, by and large, in our country.

There are some things we can’t change, like the weather; we can’t do much about that. But you can make sure a trained workforce, a business-friendly government, tax rates that are effective, education system that’s working, and then the inward investment can make a very big difference. The truth about Britain is I think one of our great advantages is our openness; the fact that actually it’s a country that people feel welcome to when they come and invest. And sometimes people can think, ‘Is that the right answer? Is it – you know, are we happy that so many firms and businesses are owned by firms from overseas?’ I think that’s the wrong way of thinking about it. You know, frankly the partnership between Britain and Germany has been great for Rolls‑Royce. Right next to my constituency is the Mini factory, which was a not very successful Rover business, now a fabulously successful Mini factory. That’s a great story about German investment, British technology, British design, and combined skills.

So these investments, being an open economy, welcoming investors from China, from India, from across Europe is really important to our industrial future. And right now, Britain is getting more investment from around the world than any other country in Europe, and making sure we’re a business‑friendly country is all key to that.

Working parents

Question

Just going on to the comment about childcare: I speak to many parents – working parents – in the local community, and there seems to be a general agreement that the school system is antiquated in terms of taking on board the commitments of working parents. And in terms of your school and education planning, I just wondered what is being considered there?

Prime Minister

Yeah. I think this is a very good point and one that’s really worth looking at. Lots of schools now are offering wraparound care. So they’re running breakfast clubs in the morning, they’re running after-school clubs in the afternoon, and that can – for many working parents – can work better than having school and a childcare arrangement. So I think we should do everything we can to encourage schools to look at that. I’m not sure we should mandate it for every school because there will be some places where it might not be the right answer, but everything we can do to encourage schools to make that happen, to help them through the, sort of, thicket of health and safety, and concerns about using schools for other purposes, anything we can do there we should.

Basically, what we’ve got to do is make it easier for people to find the childcare answer that works for them; it might be a workplace crèche, it might a child‑minder, it might be extended hours at school, it might be a nursery. No one is – wants exactly the same thing, so the more we can put the power in the hands of parents, for instance through this tax relief, the more we’ll be able to have a system that’s driven by what you want and what others want, rather than something just mandated from above.

HS2

Question

I’ve done a fair bit of travelling in Germany. HS2 [inaudible] do you think it will happen?

Prime Minister

Yes, definitely. It will – it will happen because we are passing legislation through Parliament to make it happen. Frankly, Britain has been behind in terms of high-speed rail. If you look at many other European countries, if you look at what’s happening in China, I think that these big infrastructure projects can make a big difference to our country.

So, look, the good news is we’ve got Crossraill almost completed now: the biggest construction project anywhere in Europe, happening under our capital city; that’s going to have a transformational effect on London. We’ve got very big investment going into our railways, electrifying the West Coast Line, electrifying the Midland Mainline. We need – we’re spending more on the railways now and in the next 5 years than at any time since Victorian times, but frankly we need it because a lot of the infrastructure has become outdated.

Why I think High Speed 2 makes such good sense is that, first of all, it deals with a capacity problem. You know, the line between London and Birmingham is full; every day thousands of people stand up as they arrive in London, or stand up all the way as they arrive in Birmingham. We need to build a new line. The only question is: should we build a standard one or should we build a high-speed one? And I think if you’ve got the opportunity to invest in the new technology, you should go for that. So there’s a capacity issue between London and Birmingham, but there’s also then a huge opportunity of linking up, effectively, 8 of Britain’s 10 largest cities as you go to the next stage of High Speed 2, because you’re linking Birmingham and Leeds and Manchester with so many other important stops on the way.

So it’s – people think High Speed 2 is all about speed and the time of the journey – that’s part of it – but it’s also about capacity, and it’s about connectivity; it’s about connecting up the big cities of Britain. And here’s the – why I think it’s really important: you know, we’ve had economic recoveries before, when too much of the growth and the jobs have been in London and the South East and not spread around the country, and I’m absolutely convinced that you change the economic geography of your country by these big investments in road and rail, and then you can spread wealth and prosperity much more evenly around your country.

And this is what this whole ‘northern powerhouse’ idea is about; you know, the individual cities of the north of England – Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester – they are successful economic entities, but actually if you link them up in terms of their transport and their science and their universities and their business, they become another potential London for our country, in terms of a real counterpoint, north and south.

So it’s all part of the plan. Infrastructure is a key part of our plan; you can’t have a long-term growing economy unless you invest in this infrastructure, so High Speed 2 is absolutely right. But, as I said, we are spending 3 times more on other road and rail schemes, including some important ones around the A27 which I know is an issue of great importance, as we are on High Speed 2.

Can I thank you all very much for coming? Can I thank you again for the incredible work that you’re doing here at Rolls‑Royce: the training, the skills, the exports; this is all very much part of what we want to see in our country. You’ve given me a very warm welcome, for which I’m very grateful. Best of luck with the SUV; I look forward to seeing it rolling off the production line and being sold all over the world, and here in the UK. And in the meantime, let’s take a moment to celebrate what the British motor industry is doing. From here I’m going to be off to Vauxhall, where they’re taking on another 250 people because their vans business is doing well. Later on today I’m going to be going to Cosworth, a great British engineering company taking on another 70 people. So we’re seeing a renaissance in the British motor industry, just as we’re seeing a renaissance in the British economy, and you’re a vital part of that. So thank you very much indeed.

Published 18 February 2015