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Howard: Action for controlled immigration

Speech at a campaign press conference in Cardiff

"Bore da - it's great to be in Cardiff again for the third time in less than two months.

We're in the final few days of campaigning.

And it's time to focus on the wider choices that people face in this campaign.

We've had a week of Labour spinning and justifying the past, watching their own backs and not being straight about their plans for the future.

Or the Conservatives, who are taking a stand on the issues that matter, watching out for hardworking families and being straight about what we want to deliver.

The British people want to move on from the debate of the last few days.

Character is an important issue for them, but now they want to hear about something better.

And that's our approach too.

I say proudly that we, the Conservatives, are the ones who are consistently first to take a stand on the mainstream issues, to put forward a practical agenda for action and to discuss issues that others are not prepared to talk about.

That is what we mean by taking a stand.

As people prepare for a long Bank Holiday weekend, it's time we remind Britain what we're going to do and how we are going to do it.

There are five priorities that we have put to Britain that I would like families to consider over the long weekend.

First, we will deliver value for money and lower taxes - we set that out on Monday.

How we will do this?

In our first month we will present our first budget - stopping Labour's stealth taxes dead in their tracks and putting Britain on the path to lower taxes.

We will abolish stamp duty on homes worth under quarter of a million pounds.

We'll boost savings for pensions - for every hundred pounds you save we'll put an extra £10 into your pension pot.

And we'll stop the Government's planned Council Tax revaluation.

Everyone in Wales knows just how painful revaluation has been.

Second, we will clean up hospitals - we set that out on Tuesday.

How will we do this?

By abolishing centrally imposed targets - targets which prevent local health professionals closing wards they know are infected with the superbug.

In England we will scrap them in our first day.

And we will put matron back where she belongs: in charge.

Third, we will take action on crime - we set that out on Wednesday.

How will we do that?

In our first day we will announce plans to prevent the police having to fill in a forty question form every time they stop someone.

And we'll introduce automatic minimum sentences for third time drug dealers and burglars. Career burglars will get three years and persistent drug dealers seven years. And they'll serve their sentences in full.

Fourth, we'll restore discipline in school - we set that out yesterday.

How will we do that?

At Westminster, on our first day in government, we will set out plans to giving head teachers control over their schools.

Fifth, we will limit and control immigration.

How will we do that?

In our first month we will set out our programme of legislation to get immigration back under control.

There will be an annual limit, set by Parliament, on the number of people that can settle in Britain.

We will create a British Border Control Police Force so that there is one chief constable with one job - policing our country's borders.

We will establish 24 hour security at Britain's ports to tackle illegal immigration.

We will introduce an Australian style points system for work permits so that we give priority to people with the skills Britain needs - people who want to work hard and make a contribution to our country.

We will create a fairer, more humane asylum system by breaking the link between coming to Britain and claiming asylum - a link which keeps the inhumane trade in people smuggling alive.

You all know that we are the only party to publish a Timetable for Action for our plans. The only party prepared to be accountable.

If the British people elect me as Prime Minister next Thursday, I would know that they had sent me a clear message about their wish to control immigration.

I'm not going to hang around.

I will be a Prime Minister that gets things done.

So - this is what I would do.

Call in the heads of British business and tell them to start work immediately on assessing their particular needs for different kinds of workers from overseas.

Call in the head of the Government's immigration service and tell him to start work on putting together an effective points system in consultation with British business.

Call in the government officials in charge of border control so they knew what they had to do to introduce 24 hour surveillance at our ports.

I would remind all these people what had just happened.

That the British people had just voted for action on our clear and specific set of priorities - one of which is immigration.

The people of Briton are ready for something better.

They want a final reminder of where we are heading and how we get there.

I will do two things over this long weekend to hep them make up their minds.

Tomorrow I will be setting out my vision of the Britain I believe in - a vision for a Britain with a Conservative Government.

And on Monday I will give the British people a very specific timetable of the eight priority tasks for an incoming Conservative Government: priority tasks that I will personally ensure actually happen; tasks that will be achieved by a specific date, so that the British people can mark on a calendar when things will be done.

The people of our country want to know how things will be done.

We are telling them.

We're telling them how.

We're telling them why and how we are taking a stand."

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