Boris Johnson pledges to introduce driverless tube trains within two years

This would mean the majority of the network would be served by driverless trains by the end of the decade.

Mr Johnson added: “The revenue that comes into the DLR from automation, from making sure that you don’t have personnel doing things that are unnecessary, greatly exceeds the cost of running it.

“You can use that revenue to invest in new systems. I want to be the mayor who delivers that.”

Mr Johnson has previously had to contend with 23 London Underground strikes during his four years in office.

The RMT union described driverless trains as “lethal and unworkable”, while Aslef, Britain’s biggest drivers’ union, said it would “vigorously” fight any attempts to eliminate the need for drivers.

"I want to stress that in making these reforms of the Tube, I believe it's going to be possible to work with the unions,” he said.

In a thinly-veiled attack on his rival Ken Livingstone over his links with transport unions, Mr Johnson added: “There may be some union bosses who won't agree but I'm not funded by them and I'm not supported by them."

Mr Johnson also refused to rule out running for a third term as Mayor despite claims of a bid for the Conservative Party leadership.

He said he "regrets" previously saying he would serve a maximum of two terms.

The loony Left, out to destroy youngsters’ hopes of a job

They have been bawling about the need for “proper” jobs, and denouncing all companies who cooperate with the scheme. You may wonder what these “proper” jobs might be: presumably the kind of self-replicating public sector positions that so rampantly expanded in the era of Gordon Brown, and that helped to wreck the public finances.

But the worst of it is that the companies themselves are taking fright. They don’t want to be thought of as silk top-hatted slave-drivers. They know that a spirit of anti-capitalism stalks the land, a fire-breathing beast that has shrivelled Stephen Hester’s bonus in its nostril-blast, and scorched Fred Goodwin’s knighthood, and now seeks whomever else it may devour.

They have seen what happened to the St Paul’s clergy who got in the way of the Occupy movement – and they don’t want to be the next in line. Certain sections of the media have been flamming it up, with loose talk of “workfare”, and the companies are now nervously telling the Government that they would rather not be involved.

Well, it is quite vital that they hold their nerve, and that they continue to help young people into work – indeed, it is vital that they step up their efforts.

One of the biggest problems we now face is that companies are relatively flush with cash – but don’t have the nerve to spend it; and that means they are neither expanding nor taking on more staff. This is precisely the moment when they need to be given every possible encouragement – and praise – for letting young people through their doors. They should be championed, they should be extolled, for taking on young people as workers, and the bleats of protest from the loony Left should be ignored.

In London we have been working with the National Apprenticeship Service to create more opportunities for young people – and in the last 18 months we have helped place about 54,000 apprentices. People are getting off benefits and into work. They are earning at least the minimum wage. Instead of collapsing back into depression and self-doubt they are in a place of work – with all its stresses and joys – and they are learning the cunning you need to hold down a job.

They are finding out about turning up on time, and wearing a suit, and office politics: all kinds of things that you can never really understand in even the best training colleges. They are getting the appetite and ambition and competitive work ethic that you can only find in a place of work itself. So far, 85 per cent of them have gone on to get full-time employment, and we need to accelerate this scheme. We are currently seeing new apprenticeships generated in London – which used to lag behind the rest of the country – at a rate of 5,000 a week.

We think we will get up to 100,000 by the end of the year. There is much more that can be done to make the scheme work faster and better. I am now pushing to make sure that businesses that take on apprentices get a National Insurance holiday. We are looking at ways of encouraging people to stay in work, for instance by giving them – as a bonus – a share of the saving in unemployment benefit.

These schemes are working, because business can see clear benefits from hiring apprentices. They are typically loyal and hard-working, and all the evidence is that firms that hire apprentices are more productive. The man who transformed modern Tesco didn’t arrive as an Oxbridge graduate trainee. Sir Terry Leahy began by sweeping floors.

It doesn’t matter where you start. It just matters where you are going, and you can’t get going unless you are given a start.

Boris Johnson: Blackfriars Station is as clean as a Swiss maternity ward

Blackfriars Underground station, shut for nearly three years, finally reopened today after a spectacular redevelopment.

The work has been part of the redevelopment of Blackfriars main line station which, in turn, is part of the Bedford to Brighton Thameslink rail project.

He added: "the rebirth of this central London station will improve the journeys of thousands of passengers every single day."

Brussels is slowly beeting the life out of our sugar industry

Now this superb business faces a threat from Brussels, and the imposition of an unnecessary and badly thought-out regulation. For 134 years, the company has sourced its sugar cane from around the world — not unnaturally, since the crop doesn’t grow in the UK. Week in, week out, huge boatloads of brown crystals come up the Thames to be treated. The plant has the capacity to produce 1.1 million tonnes of refined sugar a year; and yet the company is prevented, by the EU commission, from importing the raw materials in the quantities it needs. Their current output is now down to 60 per cent of capacity — and the result is that jobs are being lost in a part of London that already faces the highest levels of unemployment in the city and indeed in the whole of the country.

And while a great London business is unable to fulfil its potential, the price of sugar is pushed up — by the EU — far higher than necessary, and that price hike is felt by every hard-pressed consumer who eats anything in which sugar is an ingredient. That is a long list of foods, in tough times, whose prices are being pushed up by the Common Agricultural Policy. It is utter madness, and it derives from the ruthless determination of the Commission to protect the sugar beet producers of continental Europe.

For decades they have been artificially shielded, by high tariff walls around the EU, which mean that sugar prices in Europe are more than double the world market price. And those sugar beet producers have been given huge sums of taxpayers’ money, in export refunds, to dump their produce overseas. In 2006 the Commission reluctantly bowed to outrage from Oxfam and others, and agreed to a programme of “reform”. Of the total EU sugar market of about 17 million tonnes, 13.5 million would be reserved for the European sugar beet barons. The other 3.5 million tonnes could be supplied by sugar cane producers around the world.

The trouble is that these countries — in Africa, the Caribbean or Pacific regions — have not been able to fill the gap. To find enough cane sugar, Tate & Lyle need to be able to bring in boatfuls from places like Brazil or Central America: and that Brussels forbids. They face swingeing tariffs to bring more in — while the sugar beet producers are given a licence to produce more. At every turn the British refinery finds the system skewed in favour of the beet producers, mainly in France and Germany. But they can’t use beet in the London plants; and you can’t use beet to make golden syrup.

Already 30 jobs are going — high-skilled jobs held by long-serving staff; and it is surely a disgrace that a natural source of employment is being choked at a critical time for the economy. London firms need to be given every incentive and confidence to hire more staff and expand, from tax breaks to the apprenticeship schemes we have been helping to lead from City Hall. And we are lobbying Brussels to drop its crazy prohibition, and allow Tate and Lyle to get cane sugar from wherever in the world it can find the stuff. It is time for common sense on the sugar regime — in the name of jobs for London and cheaper food all round.

Boris Johnson: Abu Qatada surveillance requires 60 police officers a day

The extremist preacher was freed from Long Lartin top security jail on Monday evening but will be banned from holding lengthy conversations with anyone beyond his family and will not be allowed to leave his home for 22 hours a day — including going into his garden. He is prohibited from using a mobile phone, computer or the internet.

The European Court of Human Rights blocked Britain from deporting the 51-year-old Islamist cleric to Jordan after ruling that he might not receive a fair trial.

The mayor of London, Boris Johnson, highlighted the strain on police resources as a result of the release of Abu Qatada.

"It's frustrating to see 60 officers a day being dedicated to round the clock surveillance of Abu Qatada when we all want them out on the streets," Mr Johnson said.

"The sooner we get Abu Qatada to Jordan where he is due for trial, the better," he added.

On top of everything else, Abu Qatada costs us a small fortune

There are all sorts of reasons to gibber with anger at the Abu Qatada business. This is a man who came here illegally in 1993, and has used his time in our country to issue a series of revolting injunctions to his followers. He has called for the murder of any Algerian who converts from Islam – including their wives and children. He used one of his Finsbury Mosque sermons to propose the killing of all Jews, and followed this up by suggesting that his admirers should not only kill Americans, but British people as well.

That’s right, folks. Of all the countries in the world he could have blessed with his presence, of all the places he could have picked to bring up a family, he chose little old us – and now he wants us all dead. That’s gratitude, eh? It would be lovely to pretend that no one listens to this raving. But innocent Algerians did indeed have their throats cut; and his sermons were found in the possession of the late Mohammad Atta, who led the 9/11 suicide mission; and the tragic reality is that his exhortations, with their nauseating veneer of theological authority, are the legitimating voice in the minds of the poor, sad and deluded people who commit murder in the name of Islamic extremism. There is no reason whatever why he should not go for trial in Jordan, where he is wanted for his role in encouraging the bombing of a hotel in Amman.

As even the judges of the Strasbourg European Court of Human Rights have conceded, he is at no risk of torture when he gets there. No matter that he has egged on murder and mayhem, his own human rights would be fully respected, just as they have been observed, for the last 20 years, with all the punctilio of the British judicial system. And yet we are told that we cannot send him back, because there is a risk that some of the evidence at his trial may – may – be tainted, in the sense that it may – may – have been extracted from other witnesses by the use of torture. Even if this is so (and the Jordanians vehemently deny it, of course), it is not clear to me how this would amount to an abuse of Qatada’s own human rights.

Some people, such as the excellent Dominic Raab MP, are concerned that the Strasbourg court is expanding its remit, and some people are enraged by the spectacle of them bossing us around. After all, they say, we more or less invented the post-war concept of human rights in Europe. Our judges have decided that his rights would not be infringed – and now we are told what to do as if we were some kind of banana republic. But what gets me is not so much the outrage to common sense, grievous though that is. It’s the expense of the whole thing. This fellow has never worked in this country; of course not.

He has never contributed to the UK economy, never paid a penny of tax; and yet he has cost at least £500,000 in benefits and other payments, and the bill is set to soar. In tough economic times, Abu Qatada represents a completely mad and unnecessary expense for the police – and a throwback to an era of public-sector waste. I am proud to say that London is now one of the safest big cities in the world. Since May 2008, robbery has fallen by about 18 per cent, crime on buses is down 30 per cent, and crime overall is down more than 10 per cent. That’s not bad going for a recession.

In case you think I am fudging the figures, let me point out that you can’t easily hide a corpse, and the murder rate is down 25 per cent over the past four years. By this May, there will be about 1,000 more warranted officers on the streets of the capital than there were four years ago, and a million more patrols every year – and the police have achieved this in the face of the tightest public sector squeeze in memory. We have done it by cutting vast amounts of the waste that was the hallmark of the last administration.

Human resources departments have been amalgamated. Buildings have been sold or let. The grace and favour flat of the last Met Commissioner is being sold off, and Bernard Hogan-Howe is looking to make further savings in his plan to deploy even more officers on “total policing” of the city. And so it is utterly infuriating to discover that someone like Abu Qatada will now require round-the-clock surveillance in London. I am not giving away any operational secrets if I say that this means three eight-hour shifts employing 20 officers each. In other words, a full 24 hours of surveillance means that at least 60 officers are diverted to allow the fellow to go to the shop or the mosque or whatever he wants to do in his time outside his house.

Then there is the continuing housing cost and general benefit support for him and his family, a family that seems to have mysteriously expanded during the years he was supposed to have been incarcerated. Then there is the vast bill for his lawyers, and his appeals, all of which must be funded by the taxpayer. And then there are all the others who must get the same treatment, like Abu Hamza, who is also likely to come out on bail.

It is an industry, and in its profligacy it is all so pre-crisis. We got into all sorts of bad habits during the debt-fuelled boom. Government, not least the last semi-loony government of London, wasted spectacular sums on nonsense of all kinds – and we cannot afford to go back to that mentality.

This is a man who came to this country illegally. He has preached hate and violence. By common consent, he is at no risk of torture in Jordan; indeed he is guaranteed a fair trial. It is lunacy to waste police time on allowing him and his family to use taxpayers’ money to go shopping in London. He should be given a one-way ticket back, in steerage.

Britain won’t create a Facebook until we learn to praise success

Well, to see the answer, you have to go back to The Social Network, the wonderful film about the birth of the company. It was about the war between Zuckerberg and the preppy Winklevoss brothers over the paternity of Facebook. It was a feud that began at Harvard, and in many ways the environment resembled Oxbridge – gowns, rowing, fusty old traditions, oak-panelled dining halls. And yet what struck me as deeply un-British, and unlike Oxbridge, was the maniacal determination of these undergraduates to get rich, the single-mindedness with which they set about it – and their unalloyed joy in success. Making money seemed to them a good thing, even a great thing, and these days it is not clear how widely shared that assumption is in this country.

Let us imagine a British Zuckerberg. He and his fellow billionaires would be the object not just of envy, but of resentment. There would be debates in Parliament, instigated by Ed Miliband, about the scale of his prospective wealth, and whether it was tolerable in a fair society. Wherever he lived, the British Zuckerberg would be tracked down by anti-capitalist protesters, and even now, in all likelihood, the pop-up tents would be appearing on his lawn. His new-found wealth, in short, would not be the subject of simple amazement. It would provoke amazement and a fair degree of rage; and that – to put it mildly – is not a climate that is conducive to wealth creation.

It is one thing to object to bonuses that are explicitly funded by the taxpayer. It is another thing to start attacking “Mammon” of any kind – because as my old schoolmate Ed Miliband has found, it is very hard to make a distinction between “good” enterprises and “bad” enterprises, between good money and bad money, between profit that is socially useful and profit that is not socially useful. In the general confusion, there is a danger that banker-bashing will metastasise into an all-round scorn for all varieties of money-making instinct – and I can’t believe that is in the economic interests of the country.

We need to stop wasting our energy in hating the disgusting affluence of the top 1 per cent, and we need to start doing more for the bottom 20 per cent. The poor and needy will always deserve help, in taxation and in philanthropy – but we can’t expect to generate either, on the scale of the Americans, if we continue to denigrate wealth-creators. In the US, unemployment is now falling sharply, in contrast to Europe and indeed to this country. Jobs are being created, not least because America is full of people who are not only scrabbling to be the next Mark Zuckerberg, but who know that if they make it they will receive admiration from their fellow Americans, rather than chippiness and disgust.

I have no idea whether the myriad Facebook investors are correct in their potential valuation of this company. I don’t pretend to grasp the economics of the web, which seems to me to be a colossal destroyer of value, reducing the price of text, music, images and voice telephony to virtually nil. But one thing is for sure. If the Facebook bubble bursts, the investors won’t blame Zuckerberg. They will shrug their shoulders and gamble on something else.

It’s called capitalism. It’s about ideas, energy, innovation and reward, and we need to remember that for all its defects, humanity has yet to come up with a better way to run an economy.