Page last updated at 18:13 GMT, Friday, 24 April 2009 19:13 UK

Brown pledge on public investment

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Prime Minister Gordon Brown said international bankers should never again be speculators with people's money.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown has told Labour party members public investment should be maintained through the recession.

Addressing the Welsh Labour conference in Swansea, the prime minister said people should be offered "a hand up" during the economic downturn.

Mr Brown also said he did not like raising taxes "but to equip ourselves for the future costs money".

Around 400 Labour activists were in the Brangwyn Hall for his speech.

The prime minister told them: "You don't cut public investment at a time like this.

"You support families and businesses through a downturn."

It's right those who have done best over recent years, those earning over £150,000, pay a bigger contribution than they do
Prime Minister Gordon Brown

He said that the economic crisis is a test of character for everyone in the Labour Party and that unlike the Conservatives, they were rising to the challenge.

He said that this week's Budget showed they were determined to continue to invest for the future and that they "would not be repeating the mistakes of past recessions".

Stressing that instead, his government intends to invest in training to keep people in work improving roads, railways and the UK's digital infrastructure claiming that only Labour were prepared to make that investment.

Mr Brown said raising taxes was necessary to help get Britain through the recession.

But he told delegates the money raised by the new 50p top rate, announced by Alistair Darling on Wednesday, would be used for the best of causes.

Mr Brown said: "I don't like raising taxes, in fact we cut the basic rate of tax to 20p.

"You don't tax for its own sake, only for meeting the needs of our country."

Lord Kinnock and wife Glenys
Lord Kinnock and wife Glenys in the conference hall

People on modest incomes would be protected from the tax changes, he said.

"But to equip ourselves for the future costs money. That's why it's right those who have done best over recent years, those earning over £150,000, pay a bigger contribution than they do."

Praising the work of the Labour led Welsh Assembly Government, Mr Brown said "In this current economic climate with today announcing new business investment of £150m for Wales Rhodri and the Welsh Assembly and Welsh Labour councillors have been leading in supporting Wales.

"And Wales is leading the world in supporting people through the downturn and building for a better upturn with the innovative, successful Pro-Act and React programmes that now people from all over the world are coming to look at."

Earlier in his speech, the prime minister praised First Minister Rhodri Morgan, who is due to step down later this year, as a "truly towering figure in the whole history of our movement".

He said there were never enough words to thank him for all that he has done.

On Saturday Mr Morgan will address the conference

Afterwards, party members gave an enthusiastic reaction to Mr Brown's 20-minute speech.

Ali Ahmed, a Cardiff Central delegate said: "It was fantastic. He's the only one who can get us out of this mess - he really wants to help the people of Wales."

Councillor Ross Thomas, from the Ogmore constituency, said as far as the 50p tax rate went, it "heals a moral wound - they should bear their fair share of the burden."

Lynne Beegle, from Maesteg, called the speech "tremendous." She added: "I agreed with everything he said - he's doing a great job".

Deputy leader Harriet Harman and her predecessor John Prescott are also both giving keynote speeches over the weekend.



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