Labour ready to cancel HS2 'if costs rise'

There should be no blank cheque for the HS2 rail plan, says Ed Balls.

Labour is questioning whether the HS2 rail project is "the best way to spend £50bn for the future of our country".

Shadow chancellor Ed Balls told the party conference they still backed the idea of a new north-south rail link, but there could be no blank cheque.

Supporters say the project will provide much needed extra rail capacity.

The Labour leader of Manchester City Council criticised his party for raising doubts about its viability, accusing Mr Balls of a "cheap shot".

Sir Richard Leese - head of the Labour council since 1996 - said the high-speed line was "essential" to prevent the North and Midlands "slowly grinding to a halt".

"There are better ways for the shadow chancellor to demonstrate fiscal responsibility than take a cheap shot at HS2," he added.

BBC transport correspondent Richard Westcott said Labour would not commit to cancelling HS2 before the election, but would review it if they won.

He said Labour would look at whether it was the best way to spend £50bn, or whether they should look at other options, like different routes or big improvements to existing lines.

Value for money

Start Quote

There are so many Tory MPs opposed to HS2 that the plans may need Labour's support. After today that cannot be guaranteed. ”

End Quote

Earlier another of Labour's frontbench team, shadow treasury chief secretary Rachel Reeves, said the party would cancel it "if we don't think it's good value for money and costs continue to rise".

The project's first phase would see 225mph trains running on a new line to be built between London and the West Midlands by 2026. A second phase would see the line extended further north, with branches to Leeds and Manchester by 2033.

The estimated cost of the plan has risen in the past few months from £34.2bn to £42.6bn - plus £7.5bn for rolling stock - and some senior Labour figures such as Lord Mandelson and Alistair Darling now oppose the project.

HS2 has had the backing of all three main party leaders since its conception - despite strong opposition among some backbench MPs.

Supporters of HS2 argue that apart from shorter journey times, the main argument in favour of the project is the need to greatly increase passenger capacity.

Analysis

It may not sound dramatic but, believe me, this is a big shift in Labour's stance on this highly controversial project which does still, just about, have cross-party support.

Up until now the party has assured me, and everyone else, that it is committed to building the line, as long as the price doesn't go up any more.

Now Labour's telling me that it will review the project after the general election in 2015, if it gains power. In other words, ministers may not build the line, even if the price stays the same.

Instead, officials will look again at whether we really do need to spend so much money on a brand-new, high spec train line, or whether they could spend less on alternatives.

They wouldn't go into details but that could potentially mean a slower line on a different route, or beefing up the lines already there.

In the past Labour has always said that HS2 was the only way to deal with a looming capacity crunch on our railways, and that no alternatives can generate the step change in capacity needed for the future.

Clearly, that's now changed.

'Mismanaged'

In his conference speech Mr Balls said: "We continue to back the idea of a new north-south rail link."

He went on: "But under this government the HS2 project has been totally mismanaged and the costs have shot up to £50bn.

"David Cameron and George Osborne have made clear they will go full steam ahead with this project - no matter how much the costs spiral up and up. They seem willing to put their own pride and vanity above best value for money for the taxpayer."

Mr Balls added: "Labour will not take this irresponsible approach. So let me be clear, in tough times - when there is less money around and a big deficit to get down - there will be no blank cheque from me as a Labour chancellor for this project or for any project.

"Because the question is - not just whether a new high-speed line is a good idea or a bad idea, but whether it is the best way to spend £50bn for the future of our country."

The Stop HS2 campaign said Mr Balls was "dead right", adding that it was "only the vanity of politicians which is keeping this white elephant on life support".

But the RMT union said ditching HS2 would set the modernisation of the railways "back a decade".

"Britain is already in the slow lane when it comes to the railways and RMT will fight any plans by Ed Balls and the political class to leave us stuck there," said its general secretary Bob Crow.

'Tight lid'

Start Quote

Britain is already in the slow lane when it comes to the railways”

End Quote Bob Crow RMT union

Construction on the London-West Midlands phase is expected to begin around 2017, once Parliament has approved the necessary powers - probably in 2015.

The onward legs to Manchester and Leeds could start being built in the middle of the next decade, with the line open by 2032-33.

A Department for Transport spokesman said HS2 was right for the future of the country and had the support of civic leaders across the North and Midlands.

"HS2 will free up vital space on our railways for passengers and freight, generate hundreds of thousands of jobs and deliver better connections between our towns and cities," a spokesman said.

While a "tight lid" must be kept on costs, the CBI urged politicians to focus on the big picture.

"HS2 will connect eight of our 10 biggest cities, boost regeneration projects across the country for years to come, and will avert a looming capacity crunch on the West Coast Main Line," it said.

Graphic showing the route for the new highs-peed rail network

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    @BBCLouise 15:11: Louise Stewart, BBC

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  4.  
    15:10: Paper reaction The Daily Telegraph

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  5.  
    15:08: More paper reaction The Guardian

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  6.  
    15:06: Paper reaction The Daily Mail

    Unsurprisingly the majority of papers are leading on David Cameron's pledges to cut taxes if his party wins the election. David Cameron today put two major tax cuts at the heart of his bid for re-election, as he sought to see off the dual threats posed by Labour and UKIP with a patriotic plea for a Conservative majority government, writes the Daily Mail. Mailonline's political editor, Matt Chorley, says Mr Cameron unveiled a "bold slate" of policies for the Conservatives' election manifesto and moved his wife Samantha to "tears" with a "passionate defence" of the NHS.

     
  7.  
    @michaelsavage 15:06: Michael Savage, Times Chief Political Correspondent

    tweets: Paul Johnson from the #IFS: It will be "very difficult" to see how the Tories' £7bn tax giveaway could be paid for.

     
  8.  
    @JeremyCliffe 14:56: Jeremy Cliffe, The Economist's UK politics correspondent

    tweets: Of course Cameron's announcements are profligate. But public trust him with finances. He gets to pledge things Labour currently could not.

     
  9.  
    14:55: Sticking to the script
    David Cameron Here's photographic proof David Cameron used a script, as promised, for his big speech
     
  10.  
    14:49: Polling

    A new ComRes / ITV News poll suggests a majority - 57% - of the British public are dismissive of the Conservatives' record on the NHS and immigration. More than half polled (57%) thought the Conservatives' management of the NHS has been bad for Britain, while two thirds were unhappy with the party's handling of immigration. A majority also thought changes to university tuition fees and increasing spending on overseas aid have been to the detriment of the country - 55% and 56%, respectively. The only Tory policy seen by more of the British public as "good for Britain" than "bad for Britain" is the introduction of gay marriage, according to the poll. ComRes interviewed 2,024 British adults online between 26 and 28 September.

     
  11.  
    @robindbrant 14:47: Robin Brant, Political Correspondent BBC News

    tweets: think the story later will be of a much bigger donation to @ukip but not another defection. happy to be proved wrong though on the latter.

     
  12.  
    Text: 61124 14:43: Get involved

    Rob, Lichfield: In response to Patrick Wintour's tweet at 14.32 - the Human Rights Act (HRA) is a very short document that brings the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) into our law. Scrapping HRA would by definition scrap ECHR. What will be interesting is what the new Bill of Rights would put in its place.

     
  13.  
    Text: 61124 14:40: Get involved

    Rebecca, Nottinghamshire: Cameron is certainly starting to sway my vote to being Tory for the first time.

     
  14.  
    Text: 61124 14:40: Get involved

    BBC News website reader: I'm positive about the changes to tax - especially the 40% band. At last, the law-abiding hard-working middle are being recognised! Now let's please review stamp duty.

     
  15.  
    Text: 61124 14:39: Get involved

    BBC News website reader: Being offered future tax cuts on the condition of economic recovery by a party that missed their own growth and deficit targets is hardly encouraging. Specific on the offers, vague on the means to achieve these offers.

     
  16.  
    Text: 61124 14:38: Get involved

    Lee Sanders, Chichester: Mr Cameron, can't buy my vote back with a pledge to increase the 40% tax bracket to 50k after what you did to middle earners and families on the child benefit.

     
  17.  
    @PCollinsTimes 14:36: Philip Collins, Writer, The Times

    tweets: As a piece of political writing, that was the best speech Cameron has done. Clear, well written and cleverly constructed.

     
  18.  
    Text: 61124 14:36: Get involved

    Anna, Northumberland: Good, inspiring, motivating speech. He's got my vote and my help in canvassing for the first time.

     
  19.  
    @tnewtondunn 14:35: Tom Newton Dunn, The Sun political editor

    Tweets: Ed Balls attacks Cameron's #cpc14 tax cuts as "pie in the sky promises" for not being costed - but interestingly doesn't rule out matching.

     
  20.  
    @patrickwintour 14:32: Patrick Wintour, Political Editor of the Guardian

    tweets: Cameron says will scrap Human Rights Act and replace with British Bill of Rights. Does not say will quit European Convention on Human Rights.

     
  21.  
    @rafaelbehr 14:30: Rafael Behr, Guardian columnist

    tweets: As with Osbo's big raid on working poor, I wonder if Tories getting just a bit cocky with this dubiously funded (upper) mid class tax cut.

     
  22.  
    @NigelpMorris 14:30: Nigel Morris, Deputy Political Editor of the Independent

    tweets: Missing from Cameron speech - any reference to (1) Boris Johnson (2) Nick Clegg and the @LibDems #CPC14

     
  23.  
    @joeyjonessky 14:29: Joey Jones, Deputy Political Editor, Sky News

    tweets: Cameron's best speech to conference since entering Downing St. Tone varied wildly, but good bits v good indeed.

     
  24.  
    @JBeattieMirror 14:29: Jason Beattie, Daily Mirror political editor

    tweets: Things Cameron didn't mention, though he had a script: bedroom tax, food banks and A&E closures. Don't expect hounding from media on this.

     
  25.  
    14:28: Olympic audience

    There was a second Olympic champion in the Conservatives' midst this conference. James Cracknell - double Olympic rowing gold medallist - was in the audience for David Cameron's speech. Mr Cracknell is hoping to stand as a Conservative candidate at the general election. Yesterday, Olympic cycling champion Rebecca Pendleton made a speech to party activists on the importance of school sport.

    Double Olympic medallist James Cracknell
     
  26.  
    14:26: Union reaction

    Frances O'Grady, general secretary of the Trades Union Congress, says the speech marks an "RIP to compassionate conservatism". "No amount of dressing up can hide the fact that the policies in this speech pass by those who need the most help to reward richer voters" she says.

     
  27.  
    @OwenJones84 14:20: Owen Jones, Guardian columnist

    tweets: David Cameron accidentally says he "resents" the poor. But it'd explain his cuts to benefits for workers, disabled and unemployed people.

     
  28.  
    @krishgm 14:19: Krishnan Guru-Murthy, Anchor Channel 4 News and Unreported World

    tweets: @OllyGrender well it does seem increasingly plausible that the only person who won't change jobs in the next five years is Nick Clegg.

     
  29.  
    Text: 61124 14:12: Get involved

    Remy Osman, Buckinghamshire: Just starting my career and Cameron's speech has convinced me a Tory government will support me to keep more of my salary and buy a house.

     
  30.  
    14:09: Holly Watt, Whitehall Editor for the Telegraph

    writes: Michael Fallon confirms UK defence budget safe for now. The defence secretary says that Britain will continue to spend 2% of GDP on defence and attacks Labour's "terrible legacy". Read more

     
  31.  
    Text: 61124 14:03: Get involved

    Martin Carter, Winchester: David Cameron certainly more prime ministerial than Ed Miliband's debacle last week. I'll have no qualms voting Tory next year.

     
  32.  
    14:03: More reaction

    Some more reaction to the tax cuts set out by David Cameron in his final party conference speech before the election. Jonathan Isaby, chief executive of the TaxPayers' Alliance, says: "This was a positive speech for taxpayers, with tax cuts for the lowest paid and long-overdue relief for ordinary people being clobbered by the higher rate of tax. Leaving more of people's money in their own pockets is not just morally right, but the best way to promote economic growth and long-term prosperity." Mr Isaby argues that the next step should be to bring National Insurance thresholds in line with income tax to take the lowest paid out of tax altogether.

     
  33.  
    Text: 61124 14:02: Get involved

    BBC News website reader: Shot a lot of Labour and UKIP foxes in that speech. I listened on the radio and could hear the genuine passion in his voice. I felt that I was hearing the real man behind the smooth persona, and it was refreshing.

     
  34.  
    @nigelfletcher 14:01: Nigel Fletcher, ex-Conservative adviser

    tweets: I saw both Miliband and Cameron after they'd given their speeches. I'd say this sums it up. #CPC14. See photo

     
  35.  
    Text: 61124 13:56: Get involved

    David Holt, Margate. Kent: As a lifelong Labour supporter who lives in Margate I'd like to thank the prime minister for showing me a third way of supporting Ed Miliband by voting for Nigel Farage. My Labour vote is wasted in North Thanet! But thanks to David Cameron I now know my vote can now be effective thank you.

     
  36.  
    Email: haveyoursay@bbc.co.uk 13:53: Get involved

    Chris Tuck: What a difference from last week's leaders speech. Coherent, sensible, planned and delivered with emotion. Without the predictable rhetoric of class war.

     
  37.  
    Text: 61124 13:52: Get involved

    BBC News website reader: Cameron can stamp his foot and have a strop with his party faithful re our NHS. It cuts no mustard with voters.

     
  38.  
    13:51: Lib Dem reaction

    Liberal Democrat Treasury Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander accuses the Conservatives of a "shameless attempt" to copy his party's policy on the personal tax allowance. He claims the Conservatives' plan for government is based solely on spending cuts that will most affect the working-age poor. The Lib Dems, however, would fund tax cuts "fairly" and ask those with the "broadest shoulders" to pay more, he says.

     
  39.  
    @BBCNormanS 13:48: Norman Smith, BBC

    tweets: 800,000 tax payers will be taken out of higher rate tax band say Tory sources #cpc14

     
  40.  
    13:46: Business reaction

    The British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) welcomes pledges to maintain low corporation tax rates - but calls for further reductions in business rates. While applauding the PM's focus on addressing the UK's housing shortage, the BCC says governments need to be more ambitious and support private sector construction of at least 200,000 new homes per annum. Low corporation taxes are also welcomed by the Confederation of British Industry as a "positive signal to business". The organisation notes David Cameron's "commitment to a long-term economic plan for a successful Britain" - but stresses how "vital" access to the EU single market is for UK businesses.

     
  41.  
    @MASieghart 13:43: Mary Ann Sieghart, Journalist

    tweets: 'Unlike some, I prefer to keep private conversations private,' says Gove on #WATO. Do hope he's not dissing the PM.

     
  42.  
    13:41: Costs

    According to the Institute for Fiscal Studies' Paul Johnson, the combined cost of tax cuts promised by David Cameron under a Conservative government would be £7bn a year by 2020. Mr Johnson says that "even without tax giveaways plans to cut deficit down will require really extraordinary spending cuts" and adds that it will be "very important to understand how this is paid for".

     
  43.  
    @David_Cameron 13:37: David Cameron

    tweets: My commitment to 30 million hardworking taxpayers: the @Conservatives will make sure your hard work is rewarded. See photo

     
  44.  
    13:34: Gove on MPs' souls

    Asked about the defections to UKIP, Chief Whip Michael Gove says "he cannot see into the souls" of his fellow MPs and if people are "determined to be deceitful" there is little that he can do about it. He accuses Mark Reckless of "dishonouring" commitments he made to be in Birmingham and campaign for the party in Clacton. But he says he believes all remaining Tory MPs are "fantastically decent".

     
  45.  
    @FraserNelson 13:32: Fraser Nelson, editor of The Spectator

    Tweets: "Cameron is right to focus on 'me in Downing St or Ed Miliband in Downing St'. Even now he is the Tory party's most valuable single asset."

     
  46.  
    @George_Osborne 13:27: George Osborne, Chancellor of the Exchequer

    Tweets: "Best speech PM's given. Spelt out clear plan for next 5 years. Contrast with last week couldn't be starker".

     
  47.  
    13:25: 'Powerful signal' BBC Radio 4

    Michael Gove is doing the rounds after his leader's speech. He tells the World at One that he disagrees with his former adviser Dominic Cummings, who has claimed that the prime minister previously said there was "no money" for such tax cuts. He says the tax plans "send a very powerful signal" that the Conservatives will enable hard-working people to keep more of their own money.

     
  48.  
    13:23: Appreciation
    Conservative activists
     
  49.  
    13:21: MEPs grill Hill

    In other news, the UK's nomination for the next European Commission, Lord Hill, is facing a pre-confirmation hearing in the European Parliament. He is being scrutinised by MEPs from the Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee on the financial services portfolio he has been given by Commission President-elect Jean-Claude Juncker.

     
  50.  
    13:20: IFS on tax cuts

    The proposal to raise the personal allowance to £12,500 will cost £7bn, the Institute for Fiscal Studies says. The think tank's director Paul Johnson tells the BBC it is a "big cost" - more than double the amount of welfare savings announced by George Osborne earlier this week.

     
  51.  
    13:19: Personal plea Nick Robinson Political editor

    The speech was highly personal. The prime minister was almost saying: "You may not like me or my party but you have a simple choice between me and Ed Miliband." The Conservatives think this is a winning message.

     
  52.  
    Text: 61124 13:12: Get involved

    Richard, Worksop: Well I'm nailing my vote to the Tory flag pole, well delivered helpful to me and my family - I live in a labour fortress though so won't make a difference.

     
  53.  
    Email: haveyoursay@bbc.co.uk 13:12: Get involved

    Julie in Kent: Great speech but what about the people in their forties who lost their homes the last time Tories were in and negative equity was one of the most used phrases ever, and have never recovered. They don't qualify for all these first time buyer schemes and are looking only at becoming 'rest of life renters!' What are the Tories doing to help this group?

     
  54.  
    13:11: Letting go

    Conservative chief whip Michael Gove tells BBC Daily Politics that David Cameron's pledge to raise the 40p income rate tax threshold will cost "just under £2bn". He confirms that the announced tax cuts would not take place until the books are balanced. Andrew Neil raises Conservative MP defections to UKIP, and asks Mr Gove why he is "so useless" at his job. In an entertaining exchange, Mr Gove says he tries his best, to which Mr Neil suggests "Your best is not good enough". "Well that's what my mother's always told tell me," Mr Gove responds. He says once someone decides "in their heart" they are going to leave a political party or an organisation it is hard to stop them.

    Andrew Neil and Michael Gove
     
  55.  
    13:09: A sense of relief?
    The Camerons
     
  56.  
    @bbcnickrobinson 13:05: Nick Robinson, BBC

    tweets: Cameron's speech = classic Tory Coke - sound money, tax cuts, a fight with Europe. The question - has Britain got the taste for it?

     
  57.  
    13:04: Farage reaction

    UKIP leader Nigel Farage says: "None of David Cameron's promises are achievable without fundamental treaty change. Is that what he is now suggesting?"

     
  58.  
    13:02: Main points

    Just a recap of the main points from the PM's speech. He promised to raise the point at which people start paying income tax to earnings of £12,500 a year and to increase the threshold for higher-rate income tax to £50,000. He also pledged not to cut NHS funding in England between 2015 and 2020, and to abolish exclusive zero-hours contracts.

     
  59.  
    Email: haveyoursay@bbc.co.uk 12:58: Get involved

    Chris, Notts: Cameron looks very strong today, he made Miliband look like a fool.

     
  60.  
    Text: 61124 12:58: Get involved

    BBC News website reader: I like the idea of that tax cut, but how on earth is it going to be paid for?

     
  61.  
    12:54: Michael Gove Daily Politics Live on BBC Two

    Conservative Chief Whip Michael Gove tells Andrew Neil that he is not going to say "what is in each progressive Budget", but that the promises made by David Cameron in his speech will be fulfilled by 2020.

     
  62.  
    Text: 61124 12:52: Get involved

    BBC News website reader: Liked Cameron's speech! Sounded good. Still need to know how it gets funded, economic growth?

     
  63.  
    Text: 61124 12:51: Get involved

    Ben from Gloucestershire: How about some balance? I, like millions of others, see through Cameron's predictable party conference rhetoric. Not remarkable, predictable.

     
  64.  
    12:49: Robinson verdict Daily Politics Live on BBC Two

    BBC political editor Nick Robinson says the speech was a "classic Tory" one, arguing for tax cuts and a fight with Europe. But he also notes that Labour will immediately ask: "Where is this cash coming from?"

     
  65.  
    12:47: Big exit
    David and Samantha Cameron
     
  66.  
    Text: 61124 12:45: Get involved

    Chris, in Lancashire: Whatever your political views, you have to say that speech was brilliant.

     
  67.  
    @Kevin_Maguire 12:45: Kevin Maguire, Daily Mirror associate editor & New Statesman columnist

    tweets: On style, Cam gave Mili a lecture on how a podium and autocue can trump walking and forgetting. On substance, however...

     
  68.  
    12:45: Mac is back

    David Cameron leaves the stage to the sound of Don't Stop by Fleetwood Mac - a song much-heard at Bill Clinton campaign rallies in 1992.

     
  69.  
    12:44: It's over
    David Cameron and Samantha Cameron
     
  70.  
    12:44: Speech done

    Reaching his finale, David Cameron says: "Let's not go back to square one. Let's finish what we have begun. Let's build a Britain we are proud to call home, for you, for your family, for everyone." He receives a standing ovation from the crowd, and is joined by his wife Samantha on stage.

     
  71.  
    12:42: 'Better future'

    In an emotional plea to voters, David Cameron says he does not claim to be a "perfect leader". I'm your public servant standing here wanting to make our country so much better for your children and mine, he says. Mr Cameron expresses his love for the country and insists he has the track record and the right team to secure a better future for the country.

     
  72.  
    12:39: Cameron jokes about Farage and Miliband
    David Cameron addressing the conference
     
  73.  
    12:39: 'Proud again'

    We are making Britain proud again, David Cameron says of the Conservatives. He say exports to China are doubling, with manufacturing booming, record levels of employment and the country taking a lead on climate change. All the hard work is finally paying off and the light is coming up after some long, dark days, the prime minister adds.

     
  74.  
    12:37: Farage

    David Cameron says there is only one real choice - the Conservatives or Labour. A vote for UKIP is a vote for Labour, he adds. On 7 May you could "go to bed with Nigel Farage and wake up with Ed Miliband", the PM warns.

     
  75.  
    12:35: Healthcare spending

    Here is the breakdown of how the government allocated funds to healthcare services in the 2012-13 calendar year, via the BBC's Nick Triggle.

    Spending on health care services 2012-13
     
  76.  
    12:35: Bill of Rights

    David Cameron pledges a new British Bill of Rights under a future Conservative government, and the abolition of Labour's Human Rights Act.

     
  77.  
    12:34: Migration statistics

    Here are the official statistics on international migration since 1995.

    Long-term international migration
     
  78.  
    12:33: Immigration

    David Cameron recaps on his vision for a future Britain - where reward will follow effort and if you put in you get out. But it must also be strong in the world and control its own destiny, he adds, and makes reference to immigration. Mr Cameron says this will be at the very heart of his EU renegotiation strategy. He pledges that he will "not take no for an answer" on free movement. Anyone who thinks he can't achieve this should judge him by his record, he tells activists - pointing out that he secured the first ever EU budget cut. Only the Conservatives can offer the answer on Europe, and deliver the in/out referendum, he adds.

     
  79.  
    Text: 61124 12:32: Get involved

    BBC News website reader: Wow a tax cut for middle income earners. I must be dreaming. Now that would make a huge difference

     
  80.  
    @JohnRentoul 12:32: John Rentoul, Columnist, Independent on Sunday

    tweets: Got me. Well deserved standing ovation for Cameron saying, How dare Labour frighten people about his intentions on the NHS.

     
  81.  
    12:31: Unemployment

    Here are the official figures on unemployment and claimants of Jobseeker's Allowance since 1992.

    Unemployment and Jobseeker's Allowance in the UK 1992-2014
     
  82.  
    12:30: Deficit/surplus

    David Cameron has promised to cut the deficit and achieve a government surplus. Here is the official projection for the next five years.

    Structural deficit and surplus
     
  83.  
    @JamesManning4 12:29: James Manning, Head of Social at @TheSunNewspaper

    tweets: Huge emotion from Cameron on the NHS there. Remarkable moment.

     
  84.  
    12:29: Breaking News

    David Cameron promises to ring-fence the NHS budget from government spending cuts over the course of the next parliament, if the Conservatives win power. He says this is only made possible because of the government's economic management. Labour will "never understand" that you can only have a strong NHS if you have a strong economy, he adds. Remember, health care is a devolved matter in the UK, so these proposals are for the NHS in England.

     
  85.  
    12:28: NHS

    David Cameron accuses Labour of spreading "lies" about the NHS - and says Labour is the party of the scandal of Mid Staffordshire NHS Trust. He recalls his experience of the health service with his late son, Ivan, and tells conference: "How dare they suggest I would ever put that at risk for other people's children." The party rises to its feet in support.

     
  86.  
    12:26: Pensions

    David Cameron hails the government's pensions reforms, which meets with applause from party activists.

     
  87.  
    @DuncanWeldon 12:25: Duncan Weldon, Economics Correspondent, BBC Newsnight

    tweets: Raising the higher rate threshold to £50,000 would cost around £5.5bn. So this tax package has a total cost of approx £17.5bn.

     
  88.  
    12:24: Teenagers

    David Cameron praises the National Citizens' Service - and pledges that a future Conservative government would guarantee a place on the scheme for every teenage in the country.

     
  89.  
    12:23: Unions

    Some more Labour attack from David Cameron - as he criticises the party's links with the unions. He says the Conservatives are the trade union for ordinary hard-working people and families.

     
  90.  
    @patrick_kidd 12:23: Patrick Kidd, Editor of The Times Diary column

    tweets: This is a really good speech. Unless you viscerally hate Cameron and the Tories in which case nothing he could say would change you.

     
  91.  
    Tweet: @BBCPolitics 12:22: Get involved

    @Brynleydm tweets: @BBCLouise @BBCPolitics Cameron speech full of what no mention of how

     
  92.  
    12:22: Education

    David Cameron tells activists the education system has improved significantly thanks to the Conservatives' education reforms - "with teachers who feel like leaders again". But Labour would risk all this, he claims. He attacks shadow education secretary Tristram Hunt, who he claims is trying to restrict the educational advantages he had has a child - whereas "I want to spread them to every child" in the country.

     
  93.  
    12:21: Samantha Cameron hears her husband talk about their daughter
    Samantha Cameron watching her husband
     
  94.  
    12:20: Home ownership

    David Cameron turns to housing. He says planning reforms and the Help to Buy scheme have boosted housing supply and helped first-time buyers to get on to the housing ladder. Labour was wrong to oppose these policies, the PM adds. He reiterates the Conservatives' plan for 100,000 new starter homes for first-time buyers under the age of 40 at 20% off the market value. The Conservatives are the party of home ownership once again, Mr Cameron declares.

     
  95.  
    @paulwaugh 12:18: Paul Waugh, Editor of PoliticsHome.com

    tweets: Cameron conference audience feeling 'At last, a proper tax cut for those on middle incomes!'

     
  96.  
    12:17: Forgetting

    David Cameron goes on the attack now - criticising Ed Miliband for forgetting to mention the deficit in his speech. In a conciliatory note, Mr Cameron says people forget car keys and that he even forget his child in a pub (queue an apology to his wife, Samantha, in the audience). But you cannot be prime minister of this country if you forget to mention the most important issue it faces, he adds.

     
  97.  
    @rosschawkins 12:16: Ross Hawkins, BBC

    tweets: Cameron takes aim at Nick Clegg's fox

     
  98.  
    12:15: Spending choice

    Let the message go out that under the Conservatives, if you work hard and do the right thing, we say you should keep all of your own money to spend as you choose, David Cameron tells conference.

     
  99.  
    12:15: PM: Minimum-wage earners to pay "nothing"
    David Cameron on taxes
     
  100.  
    12:13: Breaking News

    Another tax announcement - David Cameron says far too many people have been dragged into the 40% tax rate - and pledges to bring back "fairness" to tax system. He says a future Tory government would raise the threshold from £41,900 to £50,00.

     

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