As it happened: Monday at conference

Key points

  • George Osborne has ruled out tax cuts for now in his big speech on the economy
  • The chancellor also says £805m will be made available to help freeze council tax bills in England for another year
  • Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith promises to fight moves from Brussels to "open our doors to benefit tourists"
  1.  
    0955:

    Good morning and welcome to our live coverage of the Conservative Party conference. All eyes will be on Chancellor George Osborne in Manchester today as he makes his big speech on the economy. He is under pressure to say where future growth will come from. He is expected to start talking from about 1200 BST.

     
  2.  
    0956:

    Mr Osborne is expected to use his keynote speech to say the UK must stick by its deficit reduction plan. But he is also expected to say that ministers are doing all they can to boost growth and enterprise. Look out for announcements on transport, mobile phone coverage, science and housebuilding.

     
  3.  
    0958:

    The chancellor has already pulled one rabbit out of the hat by saying council tax will be frozen for another year. Councils in England capping budget rises to 2.5% next year will get the money to ensure bills do not have to go up. Labour say it will only save hard-pressed families \u00a372 a year when families are losing more due to the VAT rise.

     
  4.  
    1002:

    Here's a snap of the prime minister is getting warmed up for the day's conference in his usual fashion - an early morning run along the canal.

    David Cameron
     
  5.  
    1003:

    The morning's events are under way with a video message from David Cameron. He urges all activists to listen to George Osborne's speech and to enjoy their day.

     
  6.  
    1011:

    The welfare system is first on the agenda. Employment minister Chris Grayling says the government is determined to "create an environment where works pays". Changes to the "benefit culture" are under way, he says, highlighting efforts to review all those on incapacity benefit and limit the total amount of benefits paid to a single family every year.

     
  7.  
    1013:

    It is not all about George Osborne today. A succession of other Cabinet ministers will also be speaking, among them Iain Duncan Smith, pictured here ahead of his speech with his wife Betsy.

    Iain Duncan Smith and his wife Betsy
     
  8.  
    1014:

    In the hall, Chris Grayling moves onto efforts to get people back to work. He says it is an "absolute disgrace" that whole families and, in some cases, entire communities have not worked for generations.

     
  9.  
    1017:

    Mr Grayling is now chairing a panel discussion on the government's work programme. He says the scheme is a giant "employment dating sevice", matching jobseekers with vacancies. He's joined by people who have been helped by the programme to find jobs.

     
  10.  
    1019:

    Here's a round-up of political commentators' thinking on what they expect the Conservative conference to bring this week.

     
  11.  
    1023:

    One of the panellists, Shane, talks about his difficulties finding work due to his health problems - he suffered from a brain tumour. He was "desperate" to find work and employment advisers helped him to find a job: "Everyone has a skill to offer and with help you can be pointed in the right direction," he says.

     
  12.  
    1026:

    It's the jacket-off look for Michael Gove as the heatwave continues. The education secretary is due to make his speech tomorrow.

    Michael Gove
     
  13.  
    1030:

    Two Conservative MPs are talking about efforts to help people find work in their constituencies. Andrea Leadsom says a "jobs club" in her area helped 70 people find full or part-time work while Nick de Bois says 1,200 people attended a jobs fair he organised, with many getting work as a result. Examples of "Conservative social action, in action", Mr Grayling suggests.

     
  14.  
    1031:

    Outside of the conference zone, Unison have been responding to the news that George Osborne has found funds to freeze council tax for another year. The union is not impresssed. Leader Dave Prentis says: "The Tories are playing to the gallery. They have found millions by making public sector workers tighten their belts."

     
  15.  
    1034:

    One of the government's welfare gurus, former Labour adviser Lord Freud, says plans to introduce a single universal credit by 2013 are on time and on budget.

     
  16.  
    BBC's Norman Smith

    tweets: Chris Grayling goes for the free style no notes no autocue speech. Surely the edgy thing to do would be to go retro with a lectern and paper

     
  17.  
    1039:

    A victim of the London 7/7 bombings is on the stage - Dan Biddle. Mr Biddle, who uses a wheelchair, says he realised when applying for jobs after the attacks that the odds were stacked against him now he was disabled.

     
  18.  
    1040:

    Conservative minister Maria Miller says disabled people unable to work will continue to receive "unconditional support" from the state but the disability living allowance needs to be "modernised".

     
  19.  
    1044:

    Dan Biddle says something as simple as a new office chair or software programme can help people take up a new job. He gets a generous round of applause as he leaves the stage.

     
  20.  
    1045:

    Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith takes to the stage.

     
  21.  
    1047:

    He thanks his team by name, adding that Lib Dem minister Steve Webb "is not here, sadly". Do many Conservative activists in the audience share his sadness?

     
  22.  
    1049:

    Mr Duncan Smith pays a touching tribute to his wife Betsy, unable to attend recent conferences due to illness but in Manchester this year. "You have been missed", he tells her, to a big round of applause.

     
  23.  
    1050:

    The current debt crisis is unprecedented, Mr Duncan Smith, and the party should back George Osborne's strategy "100%".

     
  24.  
    The Commentator

    tweets: Boulton & Co poll on Sky News: Will #GeorgeOsborne improve the economy? Currently sitting at 35% Yes 65% No #CPC11

     
  25.  
    1053:

    Shades of Baroness Thatcher as Mr Duncan Smith takes a swipe at the European Commission, which has urged the UK to make it easier for EU nationals to claim benefits. He says his message is "no, no, no". A loud round of applause for that one.

     
  26.  
    1053:

    Our economics editor Stephanie Flanders says the power of Britain's executive branch, and the fact that the government and its central bank have a "transparent, fully accountable" relationship, is the envy of eurozone governments and the US. Read her blog here

     
  27.  
    1057:

    Mr Duncan Smith is attacking the legacy left by Labour. The government inherited a "entrenched level of family breakdown" and a "sense of deep entitlement" when it came to benefits, he says. Changing the latter is a bit like "turning round a super tanker", he says.

     
  28.  
    1059:

    From political reporter Brian Wheeler in Manchester: Two names you are unlikely to hear name-checked in David Cameron's big speech on Wednesday: Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher. Thank goodness for Defence Secretary Liam Fox then, who managed to quote both of these Conservative titans in a brief speech to the Conservative Home/1922 committee reception last night in support of deficit reduction. The self-styled "free marketeer, unionist, eurosceptic, Atlantacist" also attacked "back door" plans for a common EU defence headquarters, saying he did not think the "people who brought us the Common Agricultural Policy...and the single currency" were the right people to take charge of the UK's defence. Lord Ashcroft - who bankrolls Conservative Home - hosted the event in the spectacular 23rd floor cocktail bar of the Hilton Hotel.

     
  29.  
    1102:

    Mr Duncan Smith talks about the "welfare contract" he is proposing. Those looking for work will be fully supported but those unwilling to do so will lose their benefits. The "something for nothing" culture must be tackled, he adds - to applause.

     
  30.  
    1103:

    As the welfare system is overhauled, Mr Duncan Smith says that people with disabilities will not be left behind.

     
  31.  
    1107:

    Married couples should not be discriminated against in the tax system, he argues, and the government will redress this in the current Parliament. Stable two-parent families are a "vital" to the country, he argues.

     
  32.  
    1111:

    This summer's riots were a "wake-up" call", Mr Duncan Smith says. People were enticed into gangs by "fear of retribution" and because they were seen as a "perverse kind of family". He compares gang members to child soldiers in troubled countries - scarred by a "life filled with anger and violence".

     
  33.  
    1114:

    Mr Duncan Smith says the UK cannot simply "arrest its way" out of the social problems highlighted by the summer riots. People must be shown a "way out" of criminal life and given every encouragement to take it.

     
  34.  
    1114:

    Wrapping up his speech, Mr Duncan Smith says the government faces the challenge of rebuilding society and "restoring aspiration and hope" to people who have "been left behind for too long".

     
  35.  
    1116:

    And with that, Mr Duncan Smith leaves the stage to applause. Here's a quick shot of him on the stage.

    Iain Duncan Smith at the Conservative Party conference
     
  36.  
    1117:

    A short break now in the hall before the main session on the economy begins.

     
  37.  
    1121:

    BBC political reporter Justin Parkinson has been out and about in Manchester, asking Conservative members what they want the party to do more on. Europe is high on the list.

     
  38.  
    1124:

    We're moving onto the economy session now. Rob Semple, vice president of the National Conservative Convention, introduces the topic.

     
  39.  
    1125:

    Business minister Mark Prisk is on the stage. He recounts his own experience of setting up a business during a "crazy" economic period. If you can make it now, you can make it any time, he says.

     
  40.  
    1126:

    The BBC's Justin Parkinson reports: Some disquiet among the members. One woman, when told by security staff to shift along a row of seats, complained: "It's like the Gestapo are running things. There's no freedom."

     
  41.  
    1127:

    Mr Prisk goes on to talk about the "tenner tycoon" - an enterprise scheme aimed at schoolchildren. He wants it to be extended to 250,000 school pupils.

     
  42.  
    1129: Deputy Editor of The Daily Telegraph Benedict Brogan

    tweets: #Tories #cpc11 packing journalists in with delegates to avoid empty spaces for Osborne: #comedycentral

     
  43.  
    1130:

    Emma Jones - founder of Enterprise Nation and co-founder of Start-up Britain - and Tory MP Damian Collins, who started the "Start-up Hub", a business competition, are on the stage talking about their various initiatives. Ms Jones is very pleased to be referred to as an entrepreneur and "go getter".

     
  44.  
    1133:

    BBC presenter Andrew Neil has been conducting a long interview with the health secretary, Andrew Lansley. You can read more about it here.

     
  45.  
    1134:

    The talk on the stage is all about getting new businesses going - the government's under pressure to spell out what it's going to do to get the economy growing. Damian Collins says it's important to get the right conditions for growth.

     
  46.  
    1136:

    Another insight from the BBC's Justin Parkinson, on the ground in Manchester: Bemused scenes outside the conference hall, as a campaigner berates individual Tory members, telling them that nuclear power is "against God's will".

     
  47.  
    1138:

    In the conference hall, we are heading towards today's main event, George Osborne's speech. Emma Jones says there is a "window of opportunity" to encourage those people with a dream about starting up their own business that it is pretty straightforward.

     
  48.  
    1141:

    Back in London, the prime minister's spokeswoman has been updating reporters about that \u00a3805m George Osborne has found to help freeze council tax. She says it is not the government's priority to use underspent funds to pay for tax freezes or other measures like weekly bin collection. The priority is to "get the economy back on track and to deal with the deficit and the debt". The announcement follows a \u00a3250m boost for weekly bin collections announced on Friday.

     
  49.  
    Editor of PoliticsHome.com Paul Waugh

    tweets: Hall filling up quickly for Osborne. Journos told to 'mingle' with delegates, no separate media pen. Very LibDem

     
  50.  
    1145:

    Emma Jones says she called a civil servant to talk about one of her projects, only to discover she said she had applied herself for the Start Up Britain mentoring for her own business. She was a big fan, Ms Jones says.

     
  51.  
    1146:

    The two panellists get a round of applause from a packed hall. Everyone's waiting to hear from the chancellor. But first we have the warm-up act - Treasury ministers Justine Greening and David Gauke.

     
  52.  
    1147:

    Mr Gauke was apparently recently voted "tax personality of the year" - praise indeed. Laughter from the audience.

     
  53.  
    1149:

    Mark Hoban, another Treasury minister, is already at the Ecofin meeting - where Chancellor George Osborne will head off early tomorrow. A reminder that outside the conference zone, the eurozone crisis continues to occupy Europe's finance ministers.

     
  54.  
    1155:

    The panel are taking questions on the economy from the floor. Financial regulation is the current topic for debate.

     
  55.  
    1157:

    In the BBC's Daily Politics studio, the head of the CBI says he has not "heard enough" from the government about growth yet. But John Cridland says that he is "confident" this will come in the next couple of months.

     
  56.  
    1201:

    In the conference hall, the questions keep coming from the floor. One woman says that more women are needed to start up businesses - what can be done? Justine Greening says a number of her constituents in Putney are running successful firms. She says role models are important - and perhaps as much isn't being made of them as could be.

     
  57.  
    1203: BBC's Norman Smith

    tweets: George Osbone's wife - and mother - in audience for big speech.

     
  58.  
    1204:

    Here's some Conservative Party conference goers enjoying contributions from the floor earlier:

    Conference goers
     
  59.  
    1205:

    The question session ends and the music starts up - the chancellor is about to take to the stage...

     
  60.  
    1206:

    A big round of applause as the prime minister takes a seat in the audience.

     
  61.  
    1208:

    Mr Osborne arrives for his speech. The audience is on its feet. Mr Osborne smiles at the claps but switches to a more serious tone as he talks about the difficulties facing the country.

     
  62.  
    1209:

    "Together we will ride out the storm" the chancellor says, to more claps. He says he doesn't want people to think the situation is "hopeless" - we should be careful not to talk ourselves into something worse, he says.

     
  63.  
    1210:

    Mr Osborne pledges to keep his "eyes on the prize" - to leave the world a better place than they found it. He repeats his argument that the last Labour government borrowed too much money. More claps.

     
  64.  
    1211:

    The BBC's Carole Walker says: We can expect a string of further announcements from the chancellor to show the government is acting to boost growth. But don't expect any new money though as George Osborne will pledge to stick within the governments spending limits.

     
  65.  
    1212:

    George Osborne goes on to accuse Labour of a "catastrophic mistake" in "saddling" the country with debt - yet more claps. They like a bit of Labour baiting. Laughter as Mr Osborne says being an economic adviser to Gordon Brown (as his Labour shadow Ed Balls is) is like being a personal trainer to Eric Pickles - the larger-than-life than communities secretary. Ouch!

     
  66.  
    1213:

    Mr Osborne continues to go through his list of criticism of Labour. The audience likes his remark that, for generations to come, people will say "thank God Britain didn't join the euro". He thanks activists for campaigning to "keep the pound" - a campaign during William Hague's leadership of the party. Mr Osborne pays tribute to "my friend" Mr Hague - who gets cheers from the conference floor.

     
  67.  
    1214: Jane Merrick

    Political Editor of the Independent on Sunday, tweets: Groan. Yet another fat joke against @ericpickles, this time by osborne. Wonder what eric thinks about being butt of jokes? #cpc11

     
  68.  
    1215:

    Mr Cameron is also name checked and gets a round of applause. Mr Osborne moves onto the eurozone debt crisis. The time to resolve the crisis is now, eurozone leaders have to "get out and fix their roof even though it's pouring with rain" - this is a play on his much-quoted phrase about Labour "they didn't fix the roof while the sun was shining".

     
  69.  
    1217:

    Mr Osborne moves onto suggestions he should be spending more to boost economic growth. He says he has "thought hard" about what more can be done and explored "every single option". But he says borrowing too much is "the cause of Britain's problems, not the solution". They like that in the hall.

     
  70.  
    1218:

    Borrowing a few billion pounds more would put low interest rates at risk, he says. The higher costs would wipe out any benefits of extra spending. The UK's deficit plan has brought it stability, the chancellor says.

     
  71.  
    1220:

    Mr Osborne sticks to his tough deficit reduction strategy: "We're in debt crisis ... you can't borrow your way out of debt". But he says the government is helping businesses by keeping interest rates low - "the most powerful stimulus that exists".

     
  72.  
    1221:

    The audience listens quietly as the chancellor goes through his arguments on interest rates - which he says are also important to keep family bills low. The government is "united" on the plan, he says. He also praises the "resolve" of the Liberal Democrats, for working together in "the national interest". Applause from Conservative activists.

     
  73.  
    1222:

    BBC political correspondent Carole Walker says: George Osborne knows some in his party believe tax cuts would be the best way to get the economy moving. He is out to convince us that it would be folly to borrow more to pay for lower taxes given the economic turmoil.

     
  74.  
    1223:

    Mr Osborne says more can be done to get the economy growing. Small firms are struggling to get credit and banks are weak. The Treasury is looking at ways to inject money directly into those parts of the economy that need it. It's called "credit easing", he says.

     
  75.  
    1224:

    More claps as Mr Osborne says the Tories are the party of "small business and enterprise". He moves on to the kind of economy and banking system he wants to see. The Royal Bank of Scotland's former boss - Sir Fred Goodwin - is criticised for irresponsibility in business. The chancellor has a little dig at Ed Balls too.

     
  76.  
    1226:

    BBC political correspondent Carole Walker says: It's not often you hear a Conservative cabinet minister at a party conference praise the Liberal Democrats. It is rarer still to hear the audience applaud the work of their old opponents.

     
  77.  
    1227:

    Mr Osborne says Ed Miliband's speech last week about "predators" and "producers" is "unworkable". It gets a good response in the hall. The chancellor says the days of Labour being "anti-business" are back. He points to the boos former Labour PM Tony Blair got at the Labour conference last week as evidence the party has changed.

     
  78.  
    1229:

    Mr Osborne goes through measures to deal with tax evasion and in a message to rich people who are not paying their fair share, he says: "We will find you and we will find your money, the days of getting away with it are over." He pledges to be just as tough on tax evasion as benefit fraud.

     
  79.  
    1230:

    The chancellor goes on to talk about what is being done to protect people's money in banks from "risky" financial activities - as outlined in the Vickers report. He says the party will "speak truth to power and wealth".

     
  80.  
    1232: Sky's Joey Jones

    tweets: Ed Miliband's speech seems to have provided Osborne with a wealth of material.

     
  81.  
    1233:

    Mr Osborne refers to his children - he doesn't want them to grow up in a world where other countries are leading the world in science, business and engineering. He wants Britain to lead the way. He says tomorrow's world is being shaped "here in Manchester" - where he says the Rutherford brothers split the atom but where the Miliband brothers also "split the Labour Party". A reference to last year's Labour conference in the city. Much laughter.

     
  82.  
    1234:

    The chancellor announces a national research programme to take the discovery of graphene - a high-tech material - "from the British laboratory to the British factory floor". It was discovered in Manchester and other countries are now showing an interest apparently.

     
  83.  
    1236:

    The chancellor goes through a list of policies including extending mobile phone coverage, new "right to buy" plans to create thousands of homes and jobs and reforming welfare and public sector pensions. In a message to unions unhappy about pension changes, he says to go on strike will "hit growth, cost jobs" and is "totally irresponsible" - greeted by a cheer from the conference floor.

     
  84.  
    1237: Sunder Katwala

    tweets: Unusually personal of GO to mention his children; as doesn't agree with Cameron that potential leader must send kids to state schools.

     
  85.  
    1238:

    Mr Osborne says he respects the right of those who have built up businesses not to see them destroyed by "vexatious appeals" to employment tribunals. People will have to work two years, up from the current one, before they can make unfair dismissal cases. Litigants will only get back fees from the tribunal if they win, he adds, to end "the one-way bet against businesses".

     
  86.  
    1239:

    Onto climate change. Mr Osborne says Britain makes up less than 2% of the world's carbon emissions while China and the US make up 40%. Carbon emissions will be cut no slower, but also no faster, than other European countries he says - the idea is not to disadvantage business.

     
  87.  
    1240:

    Mr Osborne gets applause for his widely trailed announcement that next year, money will be made available to freeze council tax in England - money will also be offered to Scotland and Wales too.

     
  88.  
    1240: Editor of The Spectator Fraser Nelson

    tweets: In terms of pure delivery, this is the best speech I have seen Osborne make. He looks relaxed, almost conversational. He's cracked it.

     
  89.  
    1241:

    Mr Osborne says there are difficult days ahead but together "we will ride out the storm" and move into the calmer, brighter seas beyond. The audience is on its feet. Mr Cameron is smiling - looks like he liked it. The hall files out.

     
  90.  
    1243:

    What did everyone make of that? Labour's Chris Leslie is unimpressed - he tells the BBC it is "staggering" that the chancellor gave "so little attention" to economic growth. He says the speech was complacent and "out of touch" with the difficulties businesses are facing.

     
  91.  
    1244:

    The BBC's political reporter Justin Parkinson says: A strange choice of music to commemorate the end of George Osborne's speech. Lionel Richie's Dancing on the Ceiling.

     
  92.  
    1245:

    BBC political correspondent Carole Walker says: George Osborne is keen to show he is listening to the calls from the business community for greater relief from employment laws and other regulations. Today's announcements will please many Tory supporters and don't require extra funding.

     
  93.  
    1246:

    The BBC's Andrew Neil says the fact Mr Osborne engaged in a bit of Labour-baiting probably means the prime minister won't. Let's wait and see.

     
  94.  
    1247:

    BBC political correspondent Carole Walker says: Despite all the economic gloom and doom, the chancellor was determined to give us all hope for the future. He knows that a sense of optimism is needed if people and businesses are to go out, spend their money and thus help the recovery.

     
  95.  
    1249:

    BBC political editor Nick Robinson says there was little applause for the chancellor as he left the stage - he thinks it was part of a conscious effort to be "low key".

     
  96.  
    1252:

    About that "credit easing" - a way to get money from small businesses who are struggling to get it from the banks. BBC political editor Nick Robinson says he understands the government could in some way underwrite loans to businesses. Treasury Minister Justine Greening says bonds could be issued, she says, adding that there is a "vibrant market" in the area in the US.

     
  97.  
    1255:

    The BBC's Andrew Neil presses Justine Greening on how exactly the credit easing would work. She says it can take the form of underwriting, providing guarantees for businesses seeking loans or making sure quantitive easing goes more directly to companies than it does at the moment. It will mean they don't have to rely on high street banks for cash, she adds.

     
  98.  
    1258:

    Won't that add to the government's debt? No, says Justine Greening, because they are liquid assets and won't go on the balance sheet. Andrew Neil continues to press her to get more precise details - the chancellor will be outlining more details in his autumn statement, she says.

     
  99.  
    1258:

    BBC political editor Nick Robinson says until we have more details about the credit easing, no-one can judge if it's good or bad. The chancelllor's message was: "I'm not budging, but don't assume I'm doing nothing", he adds.

     
  100.  
    1304:

    It's all gone quiet in the main hall for lunch, so we'll slow down our coverage for the next hour - ahead of appearances by Eric Pickles and Philip Hammond.

     
  101.  
    1319:

    Here's a shot of Mr Osborne giving his speech at the podium earlier

    George Osborne
     
  102.  
    1321:

    Transport Secretary Philip Hammond is on the BBC's World at One. He's asked about credit easing - is it a bit cumbersome? Mr Hammond says if it's to work for small businesses, it will have to be delivered "through the existing banking sector" - the "clever stuff" will have to be done behind the scenes.

     
  103.  
    1324:

    BBC political editor Nick Robinson says the central message of Mr Osborne's speech is "I'm not changing the plan" - and that he's not cutting taxes - but the chancellor says there's still lots he can do.

     
  104.  
    1331:

    Our business editor Robert Peston has blogged on the complicated issue of credit easing, announced by Mr Osborne in his speech. He's managed to get some details from officials.

     
  105.  
    1348:

    Carl Emmerson, deputy director of the Institute of Fiscal Studies, has been talking to the BBC about credit easing. "The challenge for the policy is trying to identify which small firms are not sitting on cash, can't get loans, for bad reasons - because the banks won't lend to them, they do have a good business plan - as opposed to those small businesses who can't get loans for very good reasons, simply because they don't have a good business plan."

     
  106.  
    1407:

    Among those watching George Osborne's speech from the conference hall floor was his wife, Frances. Here's a photo from earlier:

    Frances Osborne
     
  107.  
    1412:

    The BBC's Norman Smith says Andrew Tyrie - the Conservative MP who criticised party policy on the economy at the weekend - has said Mr Osborne's speech was a "huge step forward".

     
  108.  
    1416:

    Back to the council tax issue for a minute. BBC Scotland reporter Andrew Black says Scotland will get an extra \u00a367.5m in its block grant but are still deciding how to spend it. The SNP have already pledged to freeze council tax for five years.

     
  109.  
    1425:

    Asked about Mr Osborne's speech Digby, now Lord, Jones - a former CBI chief and former minister in Gordon Brown's government - tells the BBC that nothing is being done about employers' National Insurance contributions, which he sees as a "tax on jobs". But he is very pleased that the chancellor is sticking to his deficit reduction plan - it means interest rates will stay low and is "extremely important", he says.

     
  110.  
    1435:

    Communities Secretary Eric Pickles gets the audience warmed up after the long lunch break, saying "conference chums, are you ready for the afternoon?.

     
  111.  
    John Hemsley, Norwich, Norfolk,

    emails: Notwithstanding the stated desire of the Tory Party to reduce the National Debt, is it not the case that you are still spending money at a greater rate than the last Labour Government?

     
  112.  
    Russell Horwood, in Towcester,

    emails: Why do the tories intend to penalise those of us who are not fortunate enough to have a wife and kids by giving tax concessions to the lucky ones who do? Surely this is active discrimination against a minority.

     
  113.  
    1438:

    Mr Pickles starts his speech by attacking what he calls Labour's waste. Coffee machines worth \u00a36,000 were installed in Whitehall departments, he claims, while officials used their credit cards to dine out at some of London's swankiest restaurants.

     
  114.  
    1441:

    The communities secretary also has a dig at Lib Dem colleague Chris Huhne, who recently compared some Tories to Tea Party supporters in the US. He says he prefers a \u00a35 pack of Yorkshire tea to expensive coffee, adding that's "what I call a tea party".

     
  115.  
    1442:
    Steve Hilton and Andrew Tyrie

    Here's a quick screen grab of Andrew Tyrie - senior Tory backbencher and sometime critic of some of the government's initiatives - feeling the strong arm of Mr Cameron's adviser Steve Hilton on his shoulder, ahead of a BBC interview earlier

     
  116.  
    1443:

    After the warm-up banter, Mr Pickles gets onto the substance of his speech. He says Conservative councils offer better value for money than Labour local authorities. On the day George Osborne announced a further year's freeze on council taxes, Mr Pickles said Labour would have hiked bills further if they were in power.

     
  117.  
    1448:

    By the reaction in the hall, Mr Pickles' speech does not seem to be exciting all party members. However, his announcement that he is offering councils \u00a3250m to keep or restore weekly bin collections goes down well. This shows that the Conservatives "stand up for families", he insists.

     
  118.  
    1450:

    As trailed by David Cameron over the weekend, Mr Pickles says the government will reintroduce the "right to buy" for council houses - name checking Conservative icon Margaret Thatcher along the way - and says the proceeds will be used to build more houses.

     
  119.  
    1452:

    Mr Pickles moves onto controversial planning changes. The system must be simplified, he says, but it is not a choice "between the countryside and concrete" and the countryside will be protected.

     
  120.  
    1452:

    As yet Mr Pickles, a man happy to sing the virtues of chicken tikka masala while making a political argument about weekly bin collections, has yet to mention the chancellor's joke about him earlier, in which he suggested that being a "personal trainer to Eric Pickles" was not something you'd want on your CV. Does he have a joke up his sleeve at the chancellor's expense?

     
  121.  
    John Salt, Director, totaljobs.com,

    emails: The tough stance on those who claim jobseeker's allowance is perhaps not surprising coming from the Conservative Party, but the question is; are there enough jobs out there for people to get off benefits and back into employment?

     
  122.  
    1457:

    Mr Pickles says the eviction battle over the Dale Farm travellers site in Essex shows the need for reform of the planning system. He suggests a siutation like this must never be allowed to happen again. He wraps up his speech with another address to his "chums" - the audience. They move onto a panel discussion about housing and infrastructure.

     
  123.  
    1501:

    The panel, including Mr Pickles' colleague Grant Shapps, is taking questions, the first of which is on high-speed rail. Mr Shapps says the project is one way of spreading economic growth and he believes it will act as a catalyst for housebuilding and other investment. It's proved a controversial topic for some Conservatives.

     
  124.  
    1508:

    At a fringe meeting at the conference earlier Education Secretary Michael Gove, a former Times journalist, described News Corporation boss Rupert Murdoch as a "force of nature" and said he was a "great admirer" of the media mogul. He says he recognises it is not a "majority position" after the phone hacking scandal, but said Mr Murdoch had saved the UK newspaper industry.

     
  125.  
    1510:

    What can be done to boost innovation and enterprise? Mr Shapps, who says he launched his first business 21 years ago, says changes to employment law are needed to ensure firms cannot be taken to tribunals for letting staff go after a year. He says this is the most restrictive piece of red tape around.

     
  126.  
    1513:

    Mr Pickles now gives way to Francis Maude, the Cabinet Office minister responsible for tackling government waste and also conducting talks with the unions over public sector pensions.

     
  127.  
    1516:

    The BBC's Brian Wheeler reports: My colleague James Landale, the BBC's deputy political editor, is celebrating his hat trick - he's now had a tongue lashing at a fringe meeting at all three party conferences. The set was completed earlier when John Redwood got a round of applause as he attacked the BBC man for peddling BBC "lies" about the public's attitude to Europe. The former minister said - contrary to what James Landale suggested - the British public has always been more eurosceptic than its government. Mr Landale was criticised by Polly Toynbee at Labour and Lynne Featherstone at the Lib Dems.

     
  128.  
    1517:

    Back to the conference hall: Claiming he inherited a "sinking ship", Mr Maude lists what the government has done to increase efficiency since it came to power. Property has been sold, procurement streamlined, IT and advertising bills slashed. He says this is not rocket science but normal "business-like" practice.

     
  129.  
    1517:

    More must be done to help small firms get government contracts, Mr Maude says. Pointless form-filling will become a thing of the past, he insists.

     
  130.  
    1519:

    The UK has become a "world leader" in transparency when it comes to releasing government and public sector data, says Francis Maude. He admits this has not always been a comfortable process for officials.

     
  131.  
    1520:

    Mr Maude is now onto the subject of public sector pensions. He says he wants them to remain among the "best available" but that reform is "essential" and ministers are "utterly determined" to see them through.

     
  132.  
    1527:

    Mr Maude says he hopes to reach a deal over pensions but he has a tough message for the unions. He says he is launching a consultation on limiting the amount of time that public sector workers can spend on union-related activities, which has "got out of hand". Nearly 150 civil servants are serving as full-time union representatives and this cannot continue, he suggests - to loud applause.

     
  133.  
    1529:

    Mr Maude finishes and is succeeded on the stage by John Hayes, the minister for lifelong learning. He talks to a leading accountant and headhunter about the importance of apprenticeships.

     
  134.  
    1536:

    Mr Hayes says the government is creating 10,000 additional apprenticeships for school-leavers. A former apprentice, Francesca, tells the conference her experience in the VAT department of an accountancy firm was extremely positive and young people need a "structured" plan rather than being left to fend for themselves.

     
  135.  
    1537:

    Transport Secretary Philip Hammond is delivering his speech. He begins with a few jibes at Labour's Ed Balls and Ed Miliband.

     
  136.  
    1541:

    Mr Hammond, who used to be be shadow chief secretary to the Treasury before the general election, says Ed Miliband's pledge last week to distinguish between productive and predatory businesses was "ill-informed" and "unworkable".

     
  137.  
    1541:

    Everything possible will be done to ensure spending on transport infrastructure goes ahead - to "put cranes on the skyline and spades in the ground", Mr Hammond says.

     
  138.  
    1545:

    Mr Hammond says he understands local opposition to high-speed rail but says the government must act in the national interest. Like the M25, he believes it will eventually be seen to transform the economy.

     
  139.  
    1546:

    Mr Hammond promises to take a "long, hard look" at train procurement rules - that's a reference to the controversial decision to award the Thameslink rolling stock contract to a German firm rather than Derby-based Bombardier.

     
  140.  
    1548:

    On rail fares, Mr Hammond says current fare increases - set to hit 8% next year - cannot continue for ever. He suggests he is willing to work with all those in the industry, including union leader Bob Crow, to look a viable and cost-effective funding model for the railways.

     
  141.  
    1549:

    Labour's "war on the motorist" is over, Mr Hammond says. He gets a round of applause when he confirms that the maximum 70mph limit will be reviewed.

     
  142.  
    1552:

    Here's a shot of the communities secretary delivering his speech with gusto a few minutes ago:

    Eric Pickles
     
  143.  
    1552:

    Does Mr Hammond have leadership ambitions? He tells the conference that both he and Baroness Thatcher have something in common. Their first cars were both the Ford Anglia, apparently.

     
  144.  
    1556:

    Energy Secretary Chris Huhne seems to be a popular target for the Tory ministers this afternoon. Not long after Eric Pickles singled him out, Mr Hammond suggests one of his colleagues had urged him to instate the 80mph speed limit retrospectively. The Lib Dem minister is facing a police investigation into allegations he asked his then wife to accept his penalty points in 2003 - claims he denies.

     
  145.  
    1556:

    Mr Hammond's speech is over. Next we are moving onto a session about culture and sport. It is introduced by Tory MP Tracey Crouch, a fully qualified football referee.

     
  146.  
    Rosie

    tweets: You know what watching #cpc11 makes me determined to get us back in Govt ASAP.

     
  147.  
    1559:

    For those who missed it - here's the full video of George Osborne's conference speech from earlier

     
  148.  
    1559:

    Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt is talking about the Olympics. He starts with a joke - suggesting Cabinet Secretary Sir Gus O'Donnell was the only person to have a clear view from his office of the women's volleyball warm-up event this summer in central London.

     
  149.  
    1602:

    Here's BBC Scotland's political editor Brian Taylor's take on the four contenders for the Scottish Conservative leadership, at a lunchtime fringe event in Manchester

     
  150.  
    1603:

    Despite spending cuts, Culture Secretary Mr Hunt says budgets for grass-roots sports have increased. Much of this is to do with the National Lottery, which he says has been returned to its core purpose.

     
  151.  
    1606:

    The Millennium Dome, Scottish Parliament and Wembley stadium meant the UK had a chequered reputation for big construction projects. But Mr Hunt says the Olympics has proved that Britain can get things right.

     
  152.  
    1607:

    Back to George Osborne's speech for a minute - you may remember that he said that Britain would cut carbon emissions no slower, or faster, than other European countries, so as not to disadvantage British businesses. Friends of the Earth are unhappy. Executive director Andy Atkins said: "Protecting the economy and the planet are two sides of the same coin - if the chancellor can't grasp this, David Cameron is doomed to fail in his pledge to lead the greenest government ever."

     
  153.  
    1608:

    Here's a novel idea from Mr Hunt. To encourage people to holiday at home during Olympics year, he says he is talking to hoteliers about them offering a 20.12% discount to people.

     
  154.  
    1611:

    Mr Hunt pays tribute to the UK's athletes, including recent world champion cyclist Mark Cavendish and diver Tom Daley, who are hoping to "win for Britain" next year. But, as host of the Games, he says the whole country must prove that it can "win medals off the track" as well.

     
  155.  
    1615:

    Party members are now watching a video praising the facilities for the 2012 Olympics.

     
  156.  
    1616:

    Here's a shot of Philip Hammond giving his speech - he claimed an end to what he calls the "war on the motorist"

    Philip Hammond
     
  157.  
    1622:

    A number of top Olympic and Paralympic hopefuls are being welcomed onto the stage. First up is hurdler Lawrence Clarke, who has won medals at the Commonwealth Games and European Championships. Mr Hunt asks about his training regime but seems to be equally interested in the fact that the athlete's uncle is the Conservative MP, Jacob Rees-Mogg.

     
  158.  
    1624:
    David Cameron meets Shanaze Reade and Grant White

    David Cameron was in the conference hall for George Osborne's speech but he's also been getting out and about in Manchester. Here's a photo of him earlier meeting BMX champion Shanaze Reade and BMX coach Grant White at the National Cycling Centre.

     
  159.  
    1630:

    Now for something completely different, as someone once said. To celebrate next year's Cultural Olympiad, a ballerina takes to the stage in Manchester.

     
  160.  
    1633:

    The performance, which apparently was The Swan by Saint-Saens, was well received. The ballerina gets two rounds of applause - more than most ministers.

     
  161.  
    1634:

    The BBC's Justin Parkinson reports: At a meeting organised by the Eurosceptic Bruges Group, historian David Starkey describes London Mayor Boris Johnson as a "jester-despot".

     
  162.  
    1638:

    More from the Bruges Group fringe meeting. David Starkey calls Manchester a "Potemkin village" devoid of any economic role except as a "shopping mall".

     
  163.  
    1639:

    In the hall, the Olympics extravaganza continues. First a video of how the Games will benefit all parts of the UK. Now former Tory MP Lord Coe and sports minister Hugh Robertson are joining the session via a videolink from the Olympic stadium in London. Asked why he is not in Manchester, Mr Robertson says "wild horses would normally not drag him away" but he has to attend a key meeting of athletics officials.

     
  164.  
    1641:

    Some more response to George Osborne's speech earlier. The largest teaching union, NASUWT, is unimpressed with the chancellor's remarks that unions planning to strike over pension changes are "irresponsible". General Secretary Chris Keates says: "It's a bit rich for this multi-millionaire chancellor to lecture hard-working public service workers, who are relying on receiving a modest pension, about irresponsibility." She adds: "It is irresponsible to slash public spending leading to the loss of thousands of jobs in schools and school support services and across the economy."

     
  165.  
    1643:

    Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt asks Lord Coe and Hugh Robertson if they have the same tailor - they are sporting very similar suits and ties. They burst out laughing - it's already been pointed out that they are wearing "the same kit".

     
  166.  
    1645:

    A quick reminder of that slightly surreal moment earlier when a ballet dancer took to the conference stage:

    Ballet dancer at the Conservative conference
     
  167.  
    1651:

    No prizes for guessing which well-shod cabinet minister this is. That's right - the home secretary, Theresa May, whose shoes have been making Conservative Party conference headlines for years. This year, she's gone for the snakeskin look.

    Theresa May
     
  168.  
    1655:

    More fashion news. Mr Hunt remarks that he is also wearing a similar suit and tie - it must be catching - to the other two men. Lord Coe says it must be the influence of London Fashion Week.

     
  169.  
    1655:

    And on that note, the afternoon session comes to an end. We're going to wrap up our coverage for the day here, join us tomorrow when conference favourite Boris Johnson kicks off the speeches at 1030. Other speeches on the agenda are those by Theresa May, Michael Gove and Andrew Lansley.

     

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