December 12 2013 Latest news:
Annabelle Dickson, Political Editor
Friday, September 27, 2013
David Cameron has gone on the offensive in response to Labour’s 2017 energy freeze proposal claiming it is new technology such as fracking that will help keep bills down for the next 20 years.
Ahead of the Conservative Party conference in Manchester, the prime minister dismissed Labour leader Ed Miliband’s flagship policy to bring in a law to cap energy bills until 2017, saying the country needed low and competitive energy prices “not for 20 months, but for 20 years”.
He said: “We need to do the things that create a competitive energy market. We need to access the new technologies like unconventional gas that will help keep prices down, rather than policies thought up that then so swiftly unravel.”
He said the Tory gathering would be a chance to demonstrate that the country was “on the right track” and the economy was turning the corner - but added that he was not complacent.
The Conservatives are expected to distance themselves from their coalition partners during the annual conference and Mr Cameron said that while the government was “turning the tide on the deficit” he could do “even better in a Conservative majority government”.
He also hinted that key cabinet roles would be untouched in an expected reshuffle.
“You have seen the key figures have been in place, know their departments well and are really delivering - whether that is welfare, education, the home secretary. the economy, foreign secretary,” he said. “I have a really strong team and I will have the opportunity to emphasise that.”
The controversial high-speed rail project will also be on the agenda and the prime minister said he would be “making the case strongly” for the new track.
Labour’s support for the project was thrown into doubt when chancellor Ed Balls appeared to questions the project during the conference in Brighton, calling into question its cost.
But Mr Cameron said: “We have to build a new West Coast mainline. The capacity has to be expanded. So the real choice as a country is - do we build an old-style Victorian railway, or do we build one of the new high-speed railways? It seems to me to be absolutely right to choose high-speed version. And all those people who are worried about the costs of this investment, in the next Parliament 2015-2020, we’re going to be spending nearly three times as much on other rail and transport projects as we are on HS2. Including £37bn on other parts of the railways. So there’s a really clear justification for this project, there’s a very good argument about why it needs to go ahead.”
He added: “There are plenty of people who argued against the M25, the M1, the Severn Bridge - if we hadn’t built these things, our country would not be as competitive and successful as it is today,” he added.