Page last updated at 12:40 GMT, Sunday, 29 March 2009 13:40 UK

Cameron's pledge for family help

David Cameron
David Cameron said public servants spent too long on paperwork

Conservative leader David Cameron says strong family values and social responsibility is the key to building a better future in the UK.

Speaking at the Welsh Conservative party conference he said "family-friendly reform" was needed.

He said the party would "end the couple penalty in the benefits system that pays parents to live apart".

And he told the Cardiff conference that parents with a child under 18 would be able to request more flexible working.

"We need to reduce family breakdown by reducing the pressures that help cause it," he said.

"That's why we'll help families spend more time together."

But he insisted that everyone played a part in helping society become "more responsible", including schools, doctors and police.

Go to any hospital, school or police force and it's always the same: this Government will not let them get on with the job
David Cameron

Mr Cameron said a key part of this was reducing the amount of paperwork many public servants needed to complete.

He drew on an experience he had witnessed in mid Wales when he was out on the beat with a police officer.

"A mother had come to him and said her son was nicking money out of her wallet," he told the party members.

"She wanted the policeman to give a stern warning, to paint a brief but dark picture of how small crimes lead to larger ones.

"And do you know how the officer had to handle it?

"Because of all the targets, bureaucracy and paperwork, he had to take the child to the station, go through all the paperwork and caution him - so he could say he had detected a crime, solved a crime and cleared up a crime.

"If that was isolated it would be bad enough.

"But go to any hospital, school or police force and it's always the same: this government will not let them get on with the job."

Regulate debt

Mr Cameron told the conference that a Conservative government would inherit the worst public finances of any incoming modern administration if the party wins the next election, with every child in Britain born owing £17,000.

"We cannot continue on this irresponsible path. We need to live within our means," he said.

He promised to bring "law and order" to the financial markets by restoring the Bank of England's power to regulate debt in the economy.

The warning from the Governor of the Bank about further tax-and-spend measures to revive the economy was a "big victory for responsibility", Mr Cameron said.

"The prime minister who has spent and borrowed with no responsibility and no restraint, well this week he finally lost the argument."

Business rates

Closing the conference, Welsh Conservative Leader Nick Bourne announced plans to exempt tens of thousands of small businesses from business rates.

He said firms with a rateable value of up to £10,000 would, under a Tory-led assembly government, not have to pay business rates.

Firms worth between £10,001 and £15,000 could have a 20% business rate cut.

Nick Bourne
Nick Bourne closed the conference which had been held in Cardiff

The Conservatives estimate the business rate reduction scheme would cost £53m and benefit up to 90,000 firms.

Mr Bourne pledged to make small businesses "a priority" if Conservatives take power after the 2011 assembly election.

He argued that the scheme could be funded through "restoring balance" to the assembly government's finances.

The Welsh Tory leader accused Welsh ministers of "pandering to populism" through gimmicks and giveaways which had "whittled down" the public purse.

Mr Bourne also announced plans for a Welsh manufacturing strategy and "sustainable energy schemes" to produce more green jobs.

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