Labour's first 100 days: A stronger, fairer Britain? Ministers give their report on progress so far

Click to follow
The Independent Online
Labour marked its first 100 days in office yesterday by announcing that Tony Blair will give an annual statement on the Government's performance.

The Independent asked Cabinet ministers to provide an audit of what they believe they have achieved during the 100 days. We also returned to our panel of voters in Redditch, a group which personified the millions who switched their votes from Tory to Labour.

Issuing a check-list for the first 100 days, John Prescott, the Deputy Prime Minister, said the Government was delivering its side of a contract for a "stronger, fairer, modern Britain" without any sense of complacency.

"We believe we have got off to a flying start. This is not the end of our crusade, but only the beginning," he said.

Peter Mandelson, minister without portfolio, said it had "not been easy" and hard decisions had been taken.

Ministers across Whitehall have told The Independent in their end-of- term reports that they have found the pace of change "breath-taking".

The highlight of the 100 days for many was the decision by the IRA renew its ceasefire in Northern Ireland. But there have been many more changes, from independence for the Bank of England to next month's referendums in Wales and Scotland on devolution.

The Blair revolution ... in their own words

JOHN PRESCOTT

Deputy Prime Minister

By integrating environment, transport and regional development into one ministry, and putting the Deputy Prime Minister in charge, we have sent the clearest signal that the environment is at the heart of Government thinking. From ambitious greenhouse gas targets to local council services, this department impinges on the quality of people's lives in ways large and small.

We are boosting social housing, releasing nearly pounds 1bn of capital receipts. And we are not just concerned about the quantity of housing but the quality. Our showpiece Millennium Housing Project at Greenwich will meet the best technical, social and ecological standards. Our Environmental Task Force will match skills to need, from home insulation to nature conservation. We are revitalising local democracy, for example offering Londoners an elected mayor and a strategic assembly.

Plans for Regional Development Agencies have been overwhelmingly endorsed, allowing people to create wealth in their own communities instead of relying on others.

Our integrated transport policy will aim to shift the emphasis to public transport and relieve road congestion.

JACK STRAW

Home Secretary

My priority when I arrived was, and is, to overhaul the system dealing with young offenders. The Crime and Disorder Bill will put many of these reforms into law, including measures to deliver our early pledge for a fast-track for persistent young offenders; ensure they repair the damage they do to victims and the community; and make parents more responsible for the children's behaviour.

The Bill will strengthen communities by giving the police and local authorities new powers to tackle disorder and will create new offences of racially motivated violence and harassment. We have already implemented other key manifesto commitments, including introducing a Bill to ban handguns.

Prisons have taken up much of my time over the last 100 days.Last month, I awarded the Service an extra pounds 43m to cope with overcrowding. My department is presently drawing up legislation to incorporate into UK law the European Convention on Human Rights, and last month I announced that the 1999 European elections would be fought under a PR system.

Since 2 May I have announced: a judicial inquiry into the Stephen Lawrence murder; further support for crime victims; new measures to help ex-prisoners find work; proposals for a new offence of corruption to include bribery of MPs; and plans for a new Race Relations Forum.

ROBIN COOK

Foreign Secretary

In the first fortnight in office I drew up a Mission Statement which set out four key objectives:

To enhance Britain's security by promoting international stability and fostering strong alliances;

To make maximum use of our overseas posts to promote trade abroad and create jobs at home;

To improve our quality of life by working with others to protect the common environment and tackle international crime;

To secure respect for Britain's commitment to building a strong international community based on democratic values.

In Europe, we announced our intention to sign up to the Social Chapter. During the conclusion of the Inter-Governmental Conference we defended our national interests robustly without indulging in petty obstructionism.

The Government has played a leading role in strengthening the international community's resolve to implement the Dayton Peace Agreement in Bosnia. We have shown our determination to ensure that those indicted for war crimes are brought to justice.

Elsewhere, we have ensured the successful transfer of sovereignty over Hong Kong to China and begun the process of building a new relationship between Russia and an enlarged Nato.

HARRIET HARMAN

Secretary of State for Social Security

Reforming the welfare state to reduce poverty and welfare dependency is a priority of this Government. We believe that work is the best form of welfare for people of working age.

In July, we launched our New Deal for Lone Parents - a programme which will provide opportunities to work for half a million lone parents on Income Support with school age children, using pounds 200m from the windfall tax.

Childcare is vital for many women to get into work. The Budget put childcare at the heart of our economic policy and took the first step towards our National Childcare Strategy. This will make child care more accessible and affordable.

Disabled people with long-term ill health are also being offering new opportunities. We will develop a package of measures to help them get into work using up to pounds 200m from the windfall tax.

And we are taking steps to ensure that everyone can enjoy a secure and dignified retirement. VAT on fuel has been cut to 5 per cent and we have announced a wide-ranging review of all aspects of pension provision..

MO MOWLAM

Northern Ireland Secretary

We have begun to make the process of governance in Northern Ireland more open and included more people in helping make key decisions on issues like public spending. We have injected new energy and resources into priorities education, NHS patient care and getting people off benefit and into work.

We have taken decisive steps to improve the prospects for lasting peace. Much had been put in place by the previous government.We added clarity and new impetus.

Setbacks - such as the disturbances after the Drumcree parade - have been followed by advances like the peaceful outcome of the July 12th weekend.

The IRA restored their ceasefire on July 20th. The talks process will be in earnest on 15 September to tackle the core issues at the heart of Northern Ireland's problems. We want to see all parties arguing their case on behalf of the people they represent.

There is now an unprecedented opportunity to work through the talks for a new settlement that both unionists and nationalists communities in Northern Ireland can support.

CHRIS SMITH

Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport

We have consigned the backward-looking Department of National Heritage to history and established a new Department for Culture, Media and Sport - signifying a new approach to Britain's 450 billion creative industries. In less than three months, actions have spoken louder than words:

The Creative Industries Task Force: I asked Richard Branson, David Puttnam, Paul Smith, Alan McGee and others to spearhead the Government's support for arts, music, media, tourism and intellectual property.

The National Lottery White Paper sets the scene for a new People's Lottery. pounds 1bn of lottery money will be spent on health and education projects, as well as on NESTA - the nation's fund for talent.

The Millennium: I announced that the exhibition at Greenwich would go ahead and declared that more than pounds 1bn worth of projects would be taking place.

British Film: I announced a pounds 92.5m lottery cash boost to three new film franchises and new tax breaks for the film industry.

British Sport: pounds 55m has gone to the Football Trust to improve ground safety and and we have set up the Football Task Force.

Broadcasting: We removed the outdated Channel Four funding formula to help C4 spend more on diverse programme-making and British film.

MARGARET BECKETT

President of the Board of Trade

As one of my first actions, I wrote to businesses throughout the country, committing myself to working with business. I have delivered on this promise. As a first step, I launched Competitiveness UK. We have:

Established a Taskforce for Competitiveness in Europe; held a Competitiveness Summit; announced a new Advisory Group, plans for a White Paper and, most recently, published proposals for the reform of UK competition law.

Announced a wide-ranging review of utility regulation, pledged to introduce electricity and gas competition.

Awarded pounds 35m support for research and training projects to improve UK competitiveness.

Demonstrated our commitment to support of small and medium-sized firms by launching the Smaller Firms Guidance Project and proposals to introduce a right for small firms to claim interest on the late payment of debts.

Announced a review of options to give the Post Office greater commercial freedom and introduced legislation to reform management of the radio spectrum.

Freed money for research into astronomy and announced Foresight awards of pounds 10m to help science and business collaborate.

LORD RICHARD

Lord Privy Seal and Leader of the House of Lords

The political situation in the Lords is almost a mirror image of that in the Commons. With 126 Peers taking the Labour Whip, we have effectively a minority Government.

But, we have succeeded where we needed. The Government has put two Bills meeting key manifesto commitments on to the statute book in three months - on the devolution referendums and phasing out the Assisted Places scheme.

We look forward to major bills delivering our manifesto commitments on: devolution; crime and disorder; standards in schools; the European convention on human rights; reform of the Lottery; a national minimum wage; the London referendum; and regional development.

CLARE SHORT

International Development Secretary

When Tony Blair spoke at the UN Earth Summit in New York in June, the atmosphere was electric. My Department's contribution to the speech was the commitment to support the international target of halving world poverty by 2015 and to reverse the decline in our aid spend until we reach the 0.7 of GNP UN target.

The OECD's development committee has picked up targets from UN Conferences and called on the world to commit to halving extreme poverty by 2015. This means getting all the children of the world into primary education; basic health care; and clean water for all. I have set myself the task of doing all I can to mobilise the political will.

My White Paper setting out the details of this work will be published shortly. My aim is to leave behind me an international commitment to poverty elimination and the measurement of progress year on year.

ANN TAYLOR

Leader of the House

Management of the Government's heavy legislative programme; modernisation of the House of Commons; and anti-drugs co-ordination have been the key areas of my work since we have been in Government.

In our first 100 days, 18 Government Bills were introduced (compared with 10 in 1979): six Bills received Royal Assent; four White Papers were published; and 15 oral statements made.

I have set about modernising the House of Commons, which has included improving Prime Minster's Question Time and setting up a Select Committee on Modernisation. In the autumn, a Daily Agenda will replace the order paper. Some Bills will be carried over to the next session, ensuring vital work is not wasted and there will be better pre-legislative inquiry stage, with con-sultation within and outside the House.

Drugs Challenge Fund awards have been set up, with pounds 2m going to 79 anti- drugs partnerships. An extra pounds 1m has been generated from business and voluntary sectors.We also plan to advertise for UK Anti Drugs Co-ordinator.

JACK CUNNINGHAM

Agriculture Minister

Our manifesto aims were to make consumer involvement and protection the recognised cornerstone of MAFF's role; to improve standards of animal welfare; and to get the EU ban on British beef exports lifted as soon as possible.

Within a matter of days, I announced my intention to update the ministry to become more open and accountable, including preparing a new mission statement and a change of name.

By mid-June Elliot Morley, Minister for Fisheries and the Countryside, had drawn up new rules to improve the welfare of livestock being transported. A tough approach to hygiene standards in abattoirs was also pursued.

Jeff Rooker, Minister for Food Safety, announced on 21 July that to improve openness and information to consumers, the brand names of products tested in food surveys would be given when such results were published.

On 26 June, the McDonald's food group announced that they would return to using British beef, and Burger King did likewise several days later.

On 23 July, the European Union agreed to introduce Europe-wide controls to remove specified materials from beef carcasses - matching existing UK measures.

DR DAVID CLARK

Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, Office of Public Service

Our manifesto said that our aim would be to rebuild trust between the Government and the people by: cleaning up politics; rooting out public spending waste and inefficiency; and listening to the people and developing services to meet their needs

In 100 days, we have made a significant start in making the government a genuine servant of the people. We have started by:

Changing the culture of secrecy in Whitehall by showing our commitment for Freedom of Information legislation.

Announcing steps to make quangos fully answerable.

Issuing a tough new Code stating that ministers should be accountable to Parliament.

Setting up a new Better Regulation Unit to reduce burdens on business, and ensure that regulations are necessary.

Planning the introduction of a Food Standards Agency.

Considering a People's Panel whereby the public tell us their views on government services.

Comments