BBC HOMEPAGE | NEWS | WORLD SERVICE | SPORT | MY BBC low graphics | help
news vote 2001search vote 2001
 You are in: Vote2001
VOTE2001 
Main Issues 
Features 
Crucial Seats 
Key People 
Parties 
Results &  Constituencies 
Opinion Polls 
Online 1000 
Virtual Vote 
Talking Point 
Forum 
AudioVideo 
Programmes 
Voting System 
Local Elections 
Nations 

N Ireland 
Scotland 
Wales 

BBC News

BBC Sport

BBC Weather

 A/V REPORTS
Conservative leader William Hague
"I want British companies to compete on an even bigger stage"
 real 56k

Monday, 21 May, 2001, 22:15 GMT
Tory pledge on Europe
William Hague in Southport
Hague says only the Conservatives will keep the pound
Conservative leader William Hague has warned business leaders that this election is the last chance to save the pound.

In a speech in Southport he returned to the theme of Europe, reiterating that Britain should be "in Europe but not run by Europe".


The Labour Party has let so many prisoners out of jail early that even Ronnie Biggs thought it was safe to come home at the beginning of the campaign

William Hague

His speech to an invited audience on Merseyside followed a Keep the Pound rally in Northampton earlier on Monday.

But he faced accusations from Labour that he was "running scared" from Scottish voters.

Mr Hague warned: "Only a Conservative government will keep the pound."

He said his party would introduce new legislation to safeguard the UK's powers against European interference.

"If we are not big enough and good enough to run our own affairs, who on earth is big enough and good enough to run their own affairs?" he asked.

He attacked Labour's record in government.

Second chance

"They are not asking for a second term they are asking for a second chance," he said.

He argued that violent crime was rising, patients were waiting longer for operations, secondary class sizes were bigger, the asylum system was in chaos and taxes were increasing.

Mr Hague promised instead a common sense approach on issues such as crime.

William Hague in Southport
Hague: No tax for a million pensioners

He pledged to restore the number of police officers to that under the Conservatives and said there would be an end to early release scheme for prisoners.

"The Labour Party has let so many prisoners out of jail early that even Ronnie Biggs thought it was safe to come home at the beginning of the campaign," he said.

Morale rock bottom

Morale, he said, had hit rock bottom among public sector staff.

This came as Prime Minister Tony Blair set out his goals for future investment in public services and warned against 20bn Tory spending cuts, in a speech in Kent.

But Mr Hague said money would be given direct to schools by cutting red tape.

He said where Labour had failed to deliver on "education, education, education" his party would focus on "discipline, standards and choice".

And he warned that Labour would increase "stealth taxes".

This was indicated, he said, by its refusal to deny that it intended to raise the limit on National Insurance contributions.

He promised a package of measures, including ending tax for a million pensioners.

But Labour accused Mr Hague of "running scared" from voters in Scotland, claiming he had cancelled a visit to Stirling.

On his visit to Stirlingshire, Foreign Secretary Robin Cook, said: "William Hague keeps running away, he has ducked doing press conferences nationally."

But a Scottish Tories' spokesman said the visit had not been confirmed and Mr Hague would return to Scotland before the election.

 A/V CONSOLE
BBC RADIO NEWS
BBC ONE TV NEWS

Latest stories

Tax and spend

Issues: The economy

TALKING POINT
PARTY POLICIES
Economy

PARTY WEB LINKS



The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


Related stories:

21 May 01 |  Vote2001
Blair's public services 'mission'
21 May 01 |  Vote2001
Tories seek business vote
21 May 01 |  Vote2001
Tax row blazes
©BBC