100 days of change
By George Jones
Last Updated: 1:58am BST 02/07/2007
Gordon Brown plans to set a blistering pace of initiatives in his first 100 days despite his arrival in No 10 being overshadowed by the car bomb attacks in London and Glasgow.
After months of political limbo during Tony Blair's farewell, Mr Brown wants to demonstrate that a “new” Government has set to work, addressing his key priorities of education, the health service and housing – as well as protecting the nation.
His first 100 days will culminate with the Labour Party conference in Bournemouth at the end of September. By then he hopes to have shown the voters that there has been a “change” of Government with a series of initiatives intended to show he is full of ideas for the future.
Mr Brown had planned to begin his first full week as Prime Minister with a statement to Parliament today on his plans to restore trust in politics and surrender historic powers delegated to his predecessors by the Queen.
That statement has now been delayed until later in the week, with Jacqui Smith, the new Home Secretary, updating MPs on the terror threat today.
However, Mr Brown is still planning a whirlwind start to his premiership in a number of key policy areas:
The National Health Service:
The approaching 60th anniversary of its founding will result in the NHS given Bank of England-style independence. There will be an independent board – at arms-length from government – responsible for the day-to-day running of hospitals, GP surgeries and other services. The Health Secretary will set the budget and decide targets and priorities.
Having once been a sceptic, Mr Brown will push ahead with city academy schools in England in deprived areas, which can be sponsored by organisations such as businesses, charities, churches. Mr Brown wants universities to set up academies without having to find 2 million from private sponsors.
Immigration and jobs
A “British jobs for British people” programme to meet concern that low-skilled workers are being priced out of work by cheap labour from abroad, particularly new entrant countries to the EU.
Mr Brown is looking at big fines for companies who employ illegal workers and undercut pay rates and at tax incentives for firms to give British workers jobs such as builders and plumbers.
A new immigration Bill is expected in the Queen's Speech in the autumn. Employers will be required to check the nationality of every new worker – with fines of up to 10,000 if they give someone a job without checking whether they have a work permit.
Mr Brown has promised to give a new push to the long-delayed Crossrail project for London which would take mainline trains from east to west.
A 30-year rail strategy to be announce later this month could include plans for a futuristic high-speed lines carrying 186mph “bullet trains” between London and Scotland. The 10 billion new line, which would run alongside the existing 125mph West Coast mainline, would cut the journey time from London to Glasgow to two hours.
It is expected to stretch from St Pancras in London to Birmingham by 2020 and to Scotland by 2025.
A new drive to slash rates of MRSA and other hospital infections. Mr Brown believes public concern over cleanliness on the wards is undermining confidence on progress on cutting waiting lists.
The new health minister, the surgeon Prof Ara Darzi, will draw up a strategy to combat the infections.
Mr Brown fears the Government will never win “hearts and minds” over the health service reforms until it can demonstrate that the wards really are cleaner and the number of patients infected is cut.