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Last Updated: Tuesday, 5 October, 2004, 13:45 GMT 14:45 UK
Howard's speech at-a-glance
Here are the key points of Conservative leader Michael Howard's party conference speech.


  • The Tories would only promise what they could deliver - past Labour and Tory governments had broken their promises, making people fed up with politicians.

  • Their 'timetable for action' would spell out what would be done, and when - with ministers sacked if they failed to deliver.

  • For example, on the first day of a Tory government, civil service recruitment would be frozen, said Mr Howard.

  • People should vote Tory for "school discipline, more police, cleaner hospitals, lower taxes, controlled immigration".

  • He said he wanted a society where people had the freedom to get on with their own lives and where the government provided them with security.

Family history

  • Mr Howard recalled how his grandmother had been killed in a Nazi concentration camp

  • If it had not been for Winston Churchill and Britain, he would have died too

  • Saying he owed his life to Britain, he said: "I want to give Britain just a tiny bit back for what Britain has given me."

  • Calling for a better NHS, he told how his mother-in-law had died two years ago from a hospital acquired infection.


  • All politicians had made promises they could not keep - the Tories had pledged to cut taxes year-on-year in 1992 but had put them up; Labour had done the same 66 times after pledging no tax increases at all.

  • If Labour won the next election there would be third term tax rises, Mr Howard claimed.

  • While making no specific promises, he said: "Be in no doubt, when I can, I will cut taxes."

  • Mr Howard said the first task of a Tory government would be to get to grips with crime, declaring: "The gloves will come off."

    "We need a government that will stand up for the silent, law abiding majority who play by the rules and pay their dues," he said.

  • More prisons would be built, Labour's early release scheme ended and 5,000 extra police officers recruited each year.

  • The Tories would increase the number of rehabilitation places for drug addicts from 2,000 to 20,000.


  • Mr Howard said Labour had turned the "best pensions system in Europe into one of the worst".

  • Tories would restore the link between pensions and earnings.

Schools and hospitals

  • Head teachers would get control over their classrooms and would have the final say on expulsions.

  • Mr Howard attacked Labour's record on education and health saying much of the government's expenditure had been "wasted on bureaucracy".

  • More people lost their lives from hospital acquired infections than were killed on Britain's roads.

  • He said that Whitehall targets would be scrapped for schools and hospitals.


  • Mr Howard said his party would hold an early referendum on the EU constitution and have a new approach to Brussels.

  • The Tories would not hamper EU countries wanting to integrate so long as Britain was allowed to "bring powers back from Brussels", getting out of the social chapter and common fisheries policy.


  • Immigration "is out of control", having "doubled under Labour", said Mr Howard.

  • The Tories would pull out of the 1951 UN convention on refugees and introduce an annual limit on people coming into Britain.

  • The Tory leader said Britain could not allow unlimited immigration.


  • Mr Howard said the world was a better place without Saddam Hussein

  • But in the run up to the Iraq war "Tony Blair did not tell the truth" about intelligence.

  • He asked whether people would trust the prime minister if Britain faced another war.

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