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Balls apology for Labour 'mistakes'

Shadow chancellor Ed Balls has apologised for "mistakes" made by the previous Labour government, saying it is important to explain how the party will do things differently in future.

He told Labour's annual conference in Manchester that delegates should be proud of many of Labour's achievements in office, including the minimum wage, nursery places, civil partnerships, children's centres and "saving" the NHS.

But he said where mistakes were made, governments should be "grown up" about them, adding: "We should put our hands up, learn from the past and explain how we will do things differently in the future.

"So conference, we should have had tougher rules on immigration from Eastern Europe - it was a mistake not to have transitional controls in 2004, and we must change the rules in the future.

"Longer transitional controls for new countries, a longer time people have to work before they can get unemployment benefit, stopping people claiming child benefit and tax credits for families abroad, cracking down on employers who exploit migrant workers and undercut wages by avoiding the minimum wage and proper rights at work.

"Tough controls, fair rules, that is what we mean by fair movement not free movement.

"And conference, while it was the banks which caused the global recession, and it was the global recession which caused deficits to rise here in Britain and around the world, the truth is we should have regulated those banks in a tougher way.

"It was a mistake. We should apologise for it. And I do.

"As we get the deficit down, we must reform our banks for the future so that can never happen again.

"We didn't do enough to tackle the underlying causes of rising spending on housing benefit and in-work poverty.

"So the next Labour government will raise the minimum wage, build more homes to get the housing benefit bill down and cap overall spending on social security."

Mr Balls added that Labour should not have scrapped the 10p starting rate of income tax.

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