Brown's vision of social justice

By Graham DinesPolitical EditorCHANCELLOR Gordon Brown has set his vision of social justice in a third Labour term, delivering the national minimum wage to 16 year-olds and ending the “scandal” of people who lose their pensions when their jobs disappear.

By Graham Dines

Political Editor

CHANCELLOR Gordon Brown has set his vision of social justice in a third Labour term, delivering the national minimum wage to 16 year-olds and ending the “scandal” of people who lose their pensions when their jobs disappear.

In a combative speech yesterday designed to remind the Labour faithful in Brighton that it is his policies during the past seven years that will deliver the party an historic third election victory, Mr Brown said his aim was to build a progressive consensus that no future government could destroy.


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He said New Labour had given Britain the lowest inflation for 30 years, the longest period of sustained economic growth for 200 years, had doubled investment in housing, policing and transport and nearly trebled cash put into the health service.

“Have confidence in our values,” he told delegates. “Have confidence united in our values we will build the progressive consensus prosperity and justice for all.

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“Have confidence our achievements are just a beginning - we have much more to do.

“Economic stability and new incentives have helped create 300,000 new businesses. But that is not enough.

“We will not rest until millions denied opportunity can achieve their aspirations and until the 3million children living in poverty are growing up in a Britain where child poverty has been eradicated for good.

“We will not rest until Britain's public services - starved for two decades, now being rebuilt - are reformed and renewed, as example to the world and the collective pride of our nation.”

He insisted the Government would take no risks with inflationary pay deals - there would be no short-termism, no easy options, and above all no “irresponsible” pre-election promises.

The biggest challenge facing the country, said the Chancellor, was to take on and compete with the new global economies, particularly India and China. “Developing countries are now rising to become world manufacturing centres. India pays its workers just £18 a week, China £17, the Philippines less than £17. China now exports more than France, Italy and Britain.

“China's and India's wages are just 5% of ours, but we will not compete by lowering our wages or lowering standards but by raising our skills.

“At the coming election, we will make an historic promise - by moving beyond the voluntarist system of training that has failed, by extending nationwide our employer training pilots, we will make a reality of a second chance in education for all, for the first time guaranteeing to every single member of the workforce and every unemployed man and woman who is without basic skills, the resources and the learning facilities to acquire the skills they need, giving them the choices they need to make the most of their talents.”

Mr Brown continued: “I want us to make a promise to all those over 16 in work or at school or at college - for 16 and 17 year olds for the first time, a New Labour guarantee of a minimum wage.

“And it is simply wrong that people who lose their jobs can lose their pensions too. So, in partnership with the trade unions, we have set up the new pension protection fund, and for pension funds that have previously gone bust, we have already put aside £400million.

“We will work with the unions to do what it takes to tackle gross injustice of workers who through no fault of their own find their pensions have been destroyed.”

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