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Cameron promises a fresh start

Published 12/05/2015

Prime Minister David Cameron with newly elected Conservative MPs, at the Houses of Parliament
Prime Minister David Cameron with newly elected Conservative MPs, at the Houses of Parliament

David Cameron has emphasised the fresh start the new Government will make as he addressed his Cabinet for the first time.

The Prime Minister, welcoming his Tory-only team at Downing Street, said the majority administration would be "different" from the coalition as it would have proper accountability.

There would be no trading away of policies, he told his most senior ministers, who thumped the table as he arrived.

The Tory leader prompted cheers of 'hear, hear' as he described the Conservatives as the "real party of working people".

Mr Cameron said: "This will be a different Government. It is not a Coalition Government so we have proper accountability. There's no trading away of things that are in here (the manifesto)."

Delivering on the pledges in full would be one of the most important things the Government does to restore faith and trust in British politics, he added.

He began by saying: "Before we start I want everyone round this table to be absolutely clear what we are here to do and who we are here to do it for.

"It is absolutely vital that every decision that we take, every policy we pursue, every programme we start is about giving everyone in our country the best chance of living a fulfilling and good life and making the most of their talents.

"That's what this Government is going to be about."

The Prime Minister went on: "Some pundits might call it 'blue-collar Conservatism', or being on the side of hard-working taxpayers.

"I would call it being the real party of working people... the dignity of work, the dignity of having a pay-cheque, being able to keep more of their own money to spend as they choose, a home of their own, the peace of mind and security that comes from being able to raise a family and have a decent and secure retirement.

"Those are the down-to-earth, bread-and-butter issues that we were elected to deliver on."

Mr Cameron also spoke of the Government's responsibility to support those who cannot work.

He said: "As I said on the steps of Downing Street five years ago, those who can should, those who can't we always help.

"I want our reforms in education and welfare to be about true social justice and genuine compassion, helping people get on and make the most of their lives and supporting those who can't."

In a nod to events in Scotland, he told the Cabinet that bringing the country together would be key to the new Government's success.

He said: " The agenda of bringing our country together - whether that is making sure the economy works for everybody and every part of our country or the agenda of bringing the UK together - that is going to be absolutely key to the success of this Government.

"I also want you to remember what we were elected on. This document (holding up the manifesto) - in here, in the programme, we have a mandate to deliver on, all of it."

The Cabinet Room was buzzing as members, new and old, chatted to each other while they waited for Mr Cameron.

Business minister Anna Soubry and Priti Patel, who has replaced Esther McVey as employment minister, were sitting together at the far end of the table.

Northern Ireland Secretary Theresa Villiers and the new Communities and Local Government Secretary Greg Clark, in for Eric Pickles, could also be seen talking to each other.

A hush fell over the room for a few seconds as the Prime Minister arrived before the ministers began thumping the Cabinet table with their fists.

The "steady-as-she-goes" reshuffle saw the most senior jobs remain in the same hands, with Theresa May staying on as Home Secretary, Philip Hammond as Foreign Secretary, George Osborne as Chancellor and Michael Fallon as Defence Secretary.

Jeremy Hunt, Nicky Morgan, Iain Duncan Smith also remain as Health, Education and Work and Pensions Secretaries respectively, while Patrick McLoughlin held onto his job at transport, Liz Truss at environment, Ms Villiers at Northern Ireland and Stephen Crabb at the Wales Office.

Sajid Javid also remains in the Cabinet having been moved from the culture brief to the role of Business Secretary previously held by Liberal Democrat Vince Cable.

Former Commons culture committee chairman and critic of the BBC licence fee John Whittingdale has been given Mr Javid's old job as Culture Secretary.

Other new faces include former universities minister Mr Clark and Hastings and Rye MP Amber Rudd, who is entering Cabinet for the first time.

She moves upwards within the Department for Energy and Climate Change from a junior ministerial position to the secretary of state role vacated by Lib Dem Ed Davey.

Ms Rudd is one of a number of additional women attending Cabinet, although only she and Leader of the Lords Baroness Stowell have been granted full membership status.

The Conservatives' only surviving MP north of the border, David Mundell, has been made Scotland Secretary, filling another post formerly held by Lib Dems.

Chelsea and Fulham MP Greg Hands was appointed to Danny Alexander's former job of Chief Secretary to the Treasury - effectively deputy to the Chancellor of the Exchequer - but the role was downgraded, as he will attend Cabinet but not have full Cabinet membership.

Michael Gove is also returning to the top of government - moving from chief whip to Lord Chancellor and Justice Secretary at the expense of Chris Grayling, who becomes Leader of the House of Commons.

Meanwhile, Boris Johnson has been handed a role in Mr Cameron's political cabinet but will not have a ministerial job while he remains mayor of London.

With a goal of full employment and three million new apprenticeships, Downing Street said the first Queen's Speech will include a legal duty to report progress in these areas to Parliament annually.

It will also include a Bill to reduce the benefit cap to £23,000, the savings from which will go directly to supporting apprenticeships. In addition, a new scheme will see young people with no work experience required to take part in training or work placements or see their benefits removed.

A Bill increasing free childcare for three and four-year-olds to 30 hours a week will also be prioritised by the new Government, as will plans to introduce tax-free child care for every child.

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