Cameron defends arms sales in push for growth

David Cameron declared yesterday that enterprise was morally right and defended his controversial campaign to sell British-made arms to regimes around the world with poor records on democracy and human rights.

In his closing speech to the Conservative Party's spring conference in Cardiff, the Prime Minister promised to launch a personal crusade to prevent civil servants piling more bureaucratic rules and regulations on to small businesses. He tried to limit mounting criticism that the Government lacks a "growth strategy" to complement its "cuts strategy" by pledging the 23 March Budget would be the "most pro-growth" for a generation.

But in a letter today to the Chancellor, George Osborne, the Confederation of British Industry demands an "all-action Budget for growth and jobs"– including tax cuts, such as scrapping the 50p top rate on earnings above £150,000 a year.

An unrepentant Mr Cameron defended taking British arms manufacturers with him on a visit to the Middle East two weeks ago. While he attacked Labour's "dodgy deals with dictators in the desert", he rounded on critics who accused him of "salesmanship" rather than "statesmanship".

He retorted: "Attack all you want, but do you think the Germans and the French and the Americans are all sitting at home waiting for business to fall into their lap? Of course not – they're out there selling their goods, and so should we in this country as well."

He added: "While there are contracts to be won, jobs to be created, markets to be defended – I will be there. If it's making sure Rolls Royce engines are in the world's planes, I'll be there.

"If it's making sure skyscrapers in the Gulf are designed by British architects, I'll be there. I'll be there not just because it's my job, not just because it's my duty, but because I passionately believe – no, I know – that this country can out-compete, outperform, out-hustle the best in the world and I'm going to make sure I use every last drop of my energy to make sure that happens for our country."

In an echo of Tony Blair's 1999 complaint that an obstructive civil service left "scars on my back," Mr Cameron said: " The enterprise culture is alive and well in this country. Now we just need an enterprise government to go with it."

His list of "enemies of enterprise" included bureaucrats in Government departments who concoct "ridiculous rules and regulations" which make life impossible, particularly for small firms; town-hall officials who go slow on make-or-break planning decisions for business; and public sector procurement managers who think the answer to everything is a big contract with a big business and who shut out millions of small firms from a massive potential market. The Prime Minister, under fire for not curbing bankers' bonuses, promised to "watch those banks like a hawk" to make sure they deliver pledges to boost lending to small firms.

Mr Cameron said: "Enterprise is about more than money, more than the economics of growth and GDP. We understand that enterprise is not just about markets; it's also about morals. We understand that enterprise is not just an economic good, it's a social good too."

He linked his drive on enterprise to his flagship Big Society theme. He argued that the Tories had been elected to do more than tackle the deficit, highlighting their "compassion" and support for a rising international aid budget.

Defending the spending cuts, which will bite harder at the start of a new financial year next month, Mr Cameron warned his party: "The road ahead will be hard; this year in particular."

Insisting the deficit reduction plan was right, he said: "What we're doing might not be popular – but it is the only way. The other way is the cowardly way, the irresponsible way, and that has never, ever been the Conservative way."

Ed Balls, the shadow Chancellor, said:"If David Cameron wants to know who is the real enemy of enterprise and growth in Britain today, he only needs to look next door at his own Chancellor. It is George Osborne's reckless plan to cut too deep and too fast, which has seen the economy go into reverse."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
Jeremy Clarkson
people
News
Ben Little, right, is a Labour supporter while Jonathan Rogers supports the Green Party
general election 2015
News
The 91st Hakone Ekiden Qualifier at Showa Kinen Park, Tokyo, 2014
news
Life and Style
Former helicopter pilot Major Tim Peake will become the first UK astronaut in space for over 20 years
food + drinkNothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
News
Kim Wilde began gardening in the 1990s when she moved to the countryside
peopleThe singer is leading an appeal for the charity Thrive, which uses the therapy of horticulture
Sport
Alexis Sanchez celebrates scoring a second for Arsenal against Reading
football
Life and Style
health
Voices
An easy-peel potato; Dave Hax has come up with an ingenious method in food preparation
voicesDave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
News
i100
News
Japan's population is projected to fall dramatically in the next 50 years (Wikimedia)
news
  • Get to the point
2015 General Election
May2015

Poll of Polls

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Project Implementation Executive

£18000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Chiropractic Assistant

£16500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Chiropractic Assistant is needed in a ...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Account Executive - Midlands

£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides coaching ...

Day In a Page

NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

Beige to the future

Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own