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Howard: It's all about respect

Speech at Conservative Campaign Headquarters

"All my political life I have stood up for people who do the right thing and play by the rules.

Respect for the law, respect for others and respect for property: these values are at the heart of a successful society.

They are my values.

And they are the values of the forgotten majority - the hard working men and women who make up the backbone of our country.

These families abide by the law, they take responsibility for themselves and they teach their children to respect others.

Like me, they are appalled that today too many people who do the wrong thing are allowed to get away with it.

The most vivid example of the divide between the people who do the right thing and the people who do the wrong thing is Britain's thriving "yob" culture.

And much of that "yob" culture is fuelled by drink. I'm all in favour of people having a good time - as long as their good time doesn't become someone else's nightmare.

You all know the kind of thing I'm talking about: youngsters either so drunk they can't stand up or so out of control they're fighting each other. And that's before you get to the violent crime.

Our five point plan, which I am announcing today, will confront the binge drinking culture.

A Conservative Government won't turn a blind eye when they bend or break the rules. The same rules will apply to everyone - no-one will be above the law.

First, we'll start by recruiting more police and cutting back on their paperwork. David will be dealing with policing in more detail in a moment.

Second, we'll get a grip on late night drinking.

If you can bring yourself to read the one hundred and eighty pages of licensing guidance the Department of Culture, Media and Sport has issued to local councils, you'll find that when a bar applies for a late licence there's a presumption it should be granted.

This defies common sense.

Local councils know best how to tackle the challenges their local communities face.

If they believe a late night licence could cause havoc they should have the freedom to refuse it - without having to worry that they'll be overturned in the courts.

Third, a Conservative Government will put a stop to "all you can drink" promotions.

Of course, the owners of many pubs, bars and clubs are sensible.

But there's a minority that exploits young people by using every trick in the trade to encourage them to drink as much as possible, as quickly as possible.

And while the bar owners pocket the profits, local communities are left to pay the price in police manpower, vandalism and fighting in the streets.

That's why a Conservative Government will change the law to allow local councils to attach conditions to licences, preventing irresponsible drinks promotions.

Fourth, we'll give councils strong, new powers to tackle late night drinking hotspots. If you have too many pubs and clubs in one area you risk trouble - it's not rocket science.

That's why in New York licences can be refused on the basis that there are already enough bars or clubs on that block.

Yet in Britain, government guidelines explicitly discourage local councils from setting fixed closing hours or introducing staggered closing times.

So a Conservative Government will give local councils the power to block late licence extensions in drinking hotspots.

Fifth, we'll give local communities a far greater say in licensing decisions.

Today councils must automatically grant a licence if there are no local objections - yet Whitehall guidelines make it very difficult for local councillors to object.

Nor can local residents object to "temporary event notices" - that cover things like raves of up to 500 people.

And thanks to the Human Rights Act councils are now being advised that councillors cannot consider applications from their own ward because of possible "bias".

So a Conservative Government will allow councils to refuse applications even where there are no objections. And we'll allow councillors to register objections as well as consider applications from their ward.

Talk to any police officer and they'll tell you that a lot of the crime in our towns and cities is fuelled by alcohol.

Now I know that there are quite a few people - including I am afraid the odd Chief Constable - who want to sweep this problem under the carpet, who claim that by raising crime as an issue you simply increase people's fear of it.

Well I've got news for them - people are frightened of crime because there's a lot of it about.

Pensioners are frightened of going out during the day, not because of what they read in the papers, but because of what they see on their streets.

And couples stay in rather than go out on a Saturday night, not because of some TV reality show they've watched, but because they've seen for themselves the havoc and mayhem drunken yobs can cause.

Well people shouldn't have to settle for this.

I don't want members of the public looking over their shoulders - I want the yobs looking round in fear.

Instead of greeting the police with contempt I want them to fear them.

Now I use that word deliberately - fear.

I want to make yobs fear the police.

It's time to give the yobs a dose of the fear they've been dishing out to the rest of us.

And by putting fear into the hearts of yobs - we'll give hope to the decent law abiding families who do the right thing and play by the rules.

Britain deserves a government that upholds the law - and that's what a Conservative Government will deliver."

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