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News

Saturday 29 May 2010

PM’s podcast on transparency

A transcript of the Prime Minister’s podcast on transparency from 29 May 2010.

Read the transcript

This is the first of my regular podcasts, where I’ll be telling you about what’s been going on in government, the things we’re doing and our plans for the future.

Needless to say, the past few weeks have been incredibly busy.

I’m actually recording this on the train on the way back from Yorkshire where I’ve just made a big speech on our strategy for economic growth – to get the economy moving so we’ll bring new jobs and prosperity to every part of the country.

Because there really is no time to lose in this massive task we have of turning Britain around and clearing up the terrible mess that we’ve inherited.

The Chancellor has already started to get to grips with our giant debts by finding £6 billion of savings that we can make straight away. It’s only a start but it does mean we can stop the jobs tax that was planned for next year.

We’ve also had the Queen’s Speech, Michael Gove’s plans to improve our schools and Iain Duncan Smith’s welfare reforms to get people back into work. Theresa May, the Home Secretary, has wasted no time in delivering our promise to abolish identity cards.

Of course, our problems can’t all be solved overnight and I won’t pretend that they can.

But this coalition has started as we mean to go along; a government that saves money instead of wasting it; that trusts people who work in our public services, instead of dictating to them; and one that gives power away to people instead of taking it from them.

A big part of giving people more power is giving them more information. And this coming week, we’re going to be making a start on that too.

If there’s one thing I’ve noticed since doing this job, it’s how all the information about government – the money it spends, where it spends it, the results it achieves – how so much of it is locked away in a vault marked sort of private for the eyes of ministers and officials only.

I think this is ridiculous. It’s your money, your government, you should know what’s going on.

So we’re going to rip off that cloak of secrecy and extend transparency as far and as wide as possible. By bringing information out into the open, you’ll be able to hold government and public services to account. You’ll be able to see how your taxes are being spent. Judge standards in your local schools and hospitals. Find out just how effective the police are at fighting crime in your community.

Now I think that’s going to do great things. It’s certainly going to save us money.

With a whole army of effective armchair auditors looking over the books, ministers in this government are not going to be able to get away with all the waste, the expensive vanity projects and pointless schemes that we’ve had in the past.

We saw what happened with MPs’ expenses once they were put online, out in the open. No one will ever be so free and easy with public money again.

But it’s not just about efficiency and saving money. I also think transparency can help us to re-build trust in our politics. One of the reasons people don’t trust politicians is because they think we’ve always got something to hide.

Well, by the time we’ve finished, there will be far fewer hiding places.

Next week, we’re going to make a start by publishing details of public spending over the past 12 months, information about hospital infections, and some of the salaries of senior officials in government.

They are just tiny, tiny steps down the road of transparency.

The information we’re publishing next week won’t be perfect, it won’t always be in the most convenient format, and I’m sure there’ll be some mistakes. But I don’t want to hang around making sure everything is perfect – I want to get on with it, to make a start on this transparency revolution that we’re planning.

In time, I want our government to be one of the most open and transparent in the world.

We’re making a small start next week. But eventually, it’s going to make a big difference.

People will be the masters. Politicians the servants. And that’s the way it should be.

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