David Davis says previous Conservative policies have been too "timid" with too little time given to making them clear.
Mr Davis says the role of free trade to tackle povery is a priority
The Tory leadership contender pledged if he won the contest he would explain and announce policies straight away.
"I'm not willing to spend three years in a policy vacuum," he said, speaking at the Centre for Social Justice.
Mr Davis said he would not use his time "setting up commissions" and criticised the Tories in the last two parliaments for failing to "sell" their policies.
Mr Davis said: "There will be serious policy development under my leadership but I'm not willing to spend three years in a policy vacuum - and spend one year filling it.
"Our main policy priorities need to be communicated and explained now."
He said he believed Britain's economy needed "lower and simpler taxes", adding: "The first budget of the next Conservative government must begin to deliver them."
The shadow home secretary claimed to have the "determination" to spend this parliament as leader "selling an authentic socially-just conservatism to the British people".
Setting out one of his aims as "good for me, good for my neighbour", Mr Davis said the party should address the needs of the "hard-working" people in Britain as well as showing concern for "the poorest people of the world".
'Security and prosperity'
Pitting this against having a "tough approach" to immigration, he said: "There is no contradiction between being a party that controls immigration and that also cares passionately for Africa's children.
"Our own country's security and prosperity have never been more dependent upon the extension of political and economic freedom in other countries."
Referring to Judaism's teaching, he said "the highest form of charity is to help someone stand on their own two feet."
Mr Davis said the Tory party had to be "true to ourselves as Conservatives", saying that left-wing ideas had "created a dependence at home and they have created poverty overseas".
He said the role of free trade in making poverty history would a "top priority" under his leadership.
He criticised the European Union's "protectionism" over farm subsidies - targeting EU trade commissioner Peter Mandelson, who is negotiating on behalf of the EU on global trade talks.
"The EU's protectionism and its aid budget are not good servants of international development," said Mr Davis, who called for the UK to take a lead in pressing for reform in free trade.
The older of the two contenders for the party leadership, Mr Davis also used the speech to stress his experience in the shadow cabinet, telling his audience: "I hope I don't need to convince anyone here tonight that I am a Conservative. I didn't just arrive on the political stage."