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Debate on the Address
The House will now consider the following humble address moved by the Prime Minister as follows:
Most Gracious Sovereign,
We, Your Majesty’s most dutiful and loyal subjects, the Commons of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, in Parliament assembled, beg leave to offer our humble thanks to Your Majesty for the Gracious Speech which Your Majesty has addressed to both Houses of Parliament.
Prime Minister! [24 Hours]
(OOC: this is the Queen's Speech debate. In lieu of writing a QS, the debate will take place as if the Coalition Agreement is the basis of the QS debate - http://politicsuk.net/amiens/community/hatchards-of-piccadilly/2014-19-lib-lab-coalition-agreement/)
Our priorities have been set. The government’s biggest priority will be to ensure we are upholding our fiscal and social responsibilities. This government clearly believes that without social and fiscal responsibility, this country can not have prosperity for all. This government pledges to ensure our country has a stable government after turbulent times in our government due to Tory infighting, dishonesty and inability to keep their promises. This government pledges to improve the lives of every single person in Britain, not just select few. This government pledges to eliminate the deficit and improve the situation of our public services that have been undermined under Tories. This government pledges to be on the side of most vulnerable in our society, pledges to be a voice for the voiceless, pledges to work for everyone. This government pledges to create an environment that is safe and friendly to both workers and businesses. This government pledges to offer opportunities to those who are in left behind communities more than ever and revive those communities.
Mr Speaker, under our government, you do not need to be super successful, be in the right place at the right time and have luck on your side to have social mobility. If you work hard, do honest work, you will be able to live a good life. Working full time and not meeting ends meet will end under our government, we will enact a living wage to ensure that, we will cut your taxes and ensure you have access to welfare and social services when you need them. This government will ensure our social and public services will be fully funded and up and ready for any challenge that comes at these services. We will invest 3 billion in pupil premium, we will invest in our NHS and we will end the public service pay cap.
To revive our left behind communities across Britain, we will invest in their infrastructure, invest in education and in entrepreneurship but we will also invest in sports, art and culture. What makes a community a community is not just about work, businesses and education. Arts, sports, culture, a living space: these are all integral part of what makes a community and this government will ensure they won’t be ignored. We will ensure renewal and a revival under our government in these left behind communities. We will invest in sports, arts, culture. We will offer tax cuts to our small businesses to give them a head start and ensure they can sustain their businesses. We will ensure local press across Britain is strong and vital. Strong local press means higher accountability in local governance.
Mr Speaker, our government will devolve further powers to our local governments. This is not just about a cynical attempt to convince people of Scotland that we are better together, (looks sternly at SNP), this is about ensuring every part of our union has better governance and more powers for themselves. Under the Tories, our local governments have suffered a lot and we will take steps to heal those wounds and empowering our local governments even more so that they can rise from their ashes. We will not push down these powers, it will be on demand. We will work with our regions such as Cornwall, our metropolitan regions such as Leeds, Sheffield, Portsmouth and more. In housing, energy, environment, transportation and many more areas, we will provide more powers and more funding to local governments to ensure they are empowered and act according to best interests of their communities, instead of top to bottom approach from Westminster. We will ensure there are local and clear alternatives to the Big Six energy suppliers. We will ensure we can move to green public transport across the United Kingdom. We will work together with the Scottish Parliament and National Assembly for Wales to expand their powers even more. While under the previous Labour government the Welsh government managed to work together with Westminster and establish trust between each government, the Tories wrecked that trust and showed us that the Welsh government needs significantly more powers. We’ll ensure every time there is a change of government in Westminster, the Welsh government does not have to wonder whether they will be able to work together or simply wait for scraps Westminster throws at them.
Another issue, Mr Speaker, our government is committed to work on is basically how Westminster works. Because right now it does not work the way it should be. We had a Prime Minister who has violated collective cabinet responsibility to punish a member who was a whistleblower, then we learned that Prime Minister was after all behind all of that mess, then that said whistleblower becomes the Prime Minister and suddenly switches positions on so many issues including his well-praised work on political reform so that he can keep his power. I can understand when people are simply sick and tired of how Westminster works and if I have to be honest, I agree with them. Our government is committed to political reform that includes Lords reform, electoral reform and other forms of political reform.
Finally, the issue of Europe. Mr Speaker, this government will push to empower elected European Parliamentarians and have the power to actually introduce legislation and have primacy. We understand the frustrations with Europe and we share them. The European Union, as it is, is far from perfect but the European Union provides stability, security and safety to British people. Without the European Union, our country would be in a much less prosperous situation, would be in a much less secure situation and would not have the safety of being part of the biggest trade and economic bloc in the world. This government will not allow demagogues to cloud that. The European Union is not perfect but Britain is in a much better place because of it. This government recognises that and will stand by that position.
The Rt Hon Ariadne "Ari" Suchet MP
Member of Parliament for Holborn and St Pancras
The Prime Minister
Leader of the Labour Party
Media: 28 Novice (19 base +1 Media I/ +4 Media IV /+2 for Leader's Debate/+1 for Press Cycle 11/+1 for Press Cycle 12 )
I would like to begin my remarks today by paying tribute to Her Majesty for delivering yet another Most Excellent Address, she continues to serve our nation with dignity, class, and a timeless ability to sit above the politics of this place despite the intrinsic political nature of the speech she has just read out. I would also like to pay tribute to our new Father of the House the Right Honourable Member for Manchester Gorton, the World and this country have changed a lot since 1970 but I am sure he will continue to serve this House with distinction despite our political differences.
Mr Speaker if the House will indulge me I would like to also congratulate the Prime Minister on her election result but draw attention to the two resignations that it was followed by. Now admittedly one resignation was rejected and the Right Honourable Lady sits on the frontbench today but to have two resignations before the Throne Speech, before the Cabinet itself has even been decided, must set a new record for the Labour Party and for any incoming government in British politics. I would also like to congratulate the Right Honourable Lady for Cambridge on her party’s robust defence of seats in the election where the Liberal Democrats proved that u-turn if you want to, that lady comes with turn signals.
Mr Speaker this election marked a potential continuation for the British people, the Liberal Democrats could have become the moderated influence that Labour needed to become the sort of centrist party that the public so admired in the early Blair years, a party that delivered election results comparable to Attlee, Thatcher, and Baldwin. What we have here Mr Speaker is one of the greatest works of political fiction ever written, the policies presented are dangerous, farcical, pointless, or an about face from previously held political positions that got Labour their plurality. This is not a speech that outlines leadership, it is a monument to failure and it is a document that must be rejected in its entirety.
The Prime Minister’s lack of leadership is quite obvious from the get go and its reasons are just as plain. In the election campaign a secretive cabal of Blairites were content to leak policy and disagreements to Her Majesty’s Press and it seems that rather than confront the puppet masters she has simply handed them even more control of her strings. Mr Speaker I would like to begin with an exhibition on the tax rates proposed by this Throne Speech. Now everyone here and watching at home will remember that the Prime Minister declared that she wanted all income to be taxed at 60% once you hit the threshold of £100,000. This tax rate would have been the highest in the G8 by some margin and it would have been damaging to our economy, whilst I am grateful that the other three members of what we are to assume are the new Quad have forced the Prime Minister to drop this pledge it shows just how far the Prime Minister can be said to be in office but not in power. Now such a tax policy was projected to net the Exchequer about £24bn compared to today’s platform, one would expect such a seismic hole in the revenue plans to be met with an equally vast cut to the spending plan, no such cut exists. This agreement subscribes to every day to day spending plan of the Labour Party and the Liberal Democrats, indeed when it appears that there is an issue over a figure they have chosen to implement the higher number. This is not sustainable spending, it is not good fiscal responsibility, it is damaging to our country. Of course the same can also be said of the Liberal Democrats, a party just last month the Labour Party were calling “not to be trusted” because of their u-turns on issues like tuition fees, an issue they have u-turned on again it would seem. This document’s rejection of base rate income tax hikes, again whilst welcome, will deprive the Lib Dems of a lot of their £6bn healthcare funding plan so widely touted in the election with no cuts to go with them. Are we to assume that the Government will borrow yet more money to make up this £30bn shortfall? If not then where will the departmental axe fall? Or will we just see a return to the same old Labour of borrowing, taxing, and spending only this time aided and abetted every step of the way by the Liberal Democrats?
Mr Speaker, this doesn’t even cover the various uncosted policy proposals put forward by both parties. During the election the Labour Party proposed a national infrastructure fund, now these ideas can work if they are met by the right amount of funding, too much and you overheat the economy, too little and it doesn’t make the blindest bit of difference. Indeed this is a policy touted in the US where the figure bandied about is $1tn over ten years, accounting for exchange rate and population differences that amounts to between £15bn and £20bn per year, every year, for the next ten years. In other words Mr Speaker, that’s a cool £150bn to £200bn in extra debt by the end of this potential programme. It may be of interest to the House that this country spends more on debt interest than we do on the police force, the department for education, or national defence now, imagine what policies like this will do to that figure in future. The only responsible way to run the economy going forward is to eliminate the deficit in its entirety and start paying down our debts to fix the roof while the Sun is shining. This speech may pay lip service to that idea but when it comes the substance it is weak at best but if we’re being honest it is downright pathetic.
Mr Speaker if I may move briefly onto the subject of the Constitution, now everyone in this House knows that I hold some unconventional points of view on this topic for a Conservative and I can say here and now that when the topic of Lords Reform arises my party and I will give it a fair hearing and everyone will be allowed to vote with their conscience. What I will not accept, and what my party will not accept, is the forced implementation of electoral reform without a referendum, indeed we do not even believe that the issue merits an audience in this Parliament as FPTP was reaffirmed only three years ago in a democratic referendum. I also note with interest that the Prime Minister’s authority is so completely undermined by the Deputy Prime Minister that she has been forced into a position where the Liberal Democrats can cherry pick when collective responsibility does and does not apply. Indeed it is interesting to see the balance of power as the junior partner strong-arms the Labour Party into accepting collective responsibility on this issue and then strong-arms them the other way to prevent nationalisation from being followed through on as written in Labour’s manifesto. I hope the Prime Minister’s union paymasters are watching, it might be time to change the guard sooner rather than later.
I would also be remiss Mr Speaker if I didn’t draw the House’s attention to the potential human rights violation buried in the minutia of the speech. The Human Rights Act expressly protects Freedom of Expression and Freedom of Association under Articles 10 and 11 respectively, this has been upheld to include political donations in nearly every free western state. I look forward to the Government’s statement on the matter of Human Rights Act compatibility, as we all know a legal requirement for all governments, when this legislation is proposed, and I would urge the Attorney General to get ready for the inevitable Judicial Review requests and indeed the taking of this matter to the Supreme Court and other supranational bodies. As is often the way with these kinds of reform, the Government clearly believes that they want to clean up the money in politics which is a goal we can all support, but when that comes at the cost of an individual’s human rights irrespective of the sum of money or the status of the individual then such measures must be rethought or, if necessary, scrapped.
Mr Speaker we can also take a look at the farcical proposals to reform the European Union, a body which has proven time and time again that it is not interested in reform except reform which brings it towards ever closer union.The only concrete plan in this speech is to give the European Parliament the right to commence legislation. So let’s run a hypothetical shall we? If the European Parliament wanted to abolish the EU-imposed tampon tax by allowing an exemption from VAT rules for it then how would an empowered European Parliament go about doing such a thing? In short Mr Speaker they still wouldn’t be able to. Before we can even think about empowering the European Parliament to propose its own legislation perhaps we should ensure that it actually has the right to make its voice heard on all matters? Indeed under the special legislative procedures set out by the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) the EU Parliament is simply advisory on all major matters of economic policy, including indirect taxes such as VAT and the Tampon Tax. Maybe before we start trying to kick the door down we should try and pick the lock by overturning this bizarre treaty stipulation? And while we’re on the subject of bizarre treaty stipulations pertaining to the functioning of the European Parliament let’s look at the other special legislative procedure which, rather like the Liberal Democrats talking to the Labour Party, seeks to bind the European Parliament wherever it wants to. The other special legislative procedure gives the Parliament a veto, but no right of amendment. Maybe instead of kicking down the door with wide-reaching reforms that the EU will reject we could start by giving the European Parliament a proper voice on the issues it currently contends with, maybe we should abolish the special legislative procedures to give the European Parliament the right to be heard and not simply overridden. Of course, we could also stop the frankly ridiculous practice of having a special week every month where the entire Parliament moves from Brussels to Strasbourg which would be akin to our Parliament taking a week every month and moving to Aberdeen to sit. These are more meaningful reforms, that are a damn sight more achievable, which have the added bonus of saving everyone money by preventing the massive waste of resources that accompanies moving an entire Parliament around like a touring circus. This Government needs to stop wasting the House’s time with grandstanding and start focusing on what is actually achievable.
Finally Mr Speaker, on the foreign policy of this speech, we come to the wish list for future EU reform, a wish list so ambitious that it borders on parody. As I have said before the European Union is utterly intransigent when it comes to reform that doesn’t further us towards ever closer union which is why I have always favoured remaining on the current deal and opting out of ever closer union reforms. This Government is taking us on a much different path, their wish list contains a great many policies that would make a United States of Europe not just more likely, it may in fact bring it about in all but name. Mr Speaker at present the prime legislative body of the European Union is the Council of the European Union, 28 Ministers (one for each nation) who discuss the direction of the body and new legislative proposals. They act as a proper stalwart defence to protect Member States’ interests against the creep of Pan-European Nationalism, the desire to create a single United States of Europe. If we’re talking about meaningful reforms then we should be talking about empowering this body and restoring the vetoes that they are about to be stripped of in November, further weakening our nation’s stand against ever closer union, instead the Government proposes a plan that would see this body become the EU’s great vestigial limb. The EU already operates on a Bicameral system, the Council and the Parliament form the two halves of the larger whole in the same way that this House and the Other Place do so in this country, what this proposes is a tricameral legislature. Imagine that Mr Speaker, more politicians, another layer of bureaucracy, and indeed a level of bureaucracy where the UK has the same voting power as Malta if it is based on the US system as the speech suggested. At best this proposal would create a never ending gridlock as the three bodies jostle for position, at worst it would reduce the power of the council, further diluting the voices of national governments on the march to ever closer union.
Mr Speaker, on the other points I think it would be important for me to say that whilst my party would support an EU-Commonwealth trade agreement such a deal would be nearly impossible to negotiate, TTIP has been going on for years and it is with a single economy, how will the EU negotiate a comprehensive deal with 52 other economies at the same time? Especially when we consider that the Commonwealth doesn’t have a single unified structure anything like the system of the EU. A single President sounds lovely on paper Mr Speaker, but the EU will never allow such a system without further closening of our relationships as the proposal as proposed would run roughshod over the separation of powers between the European executive and its legislature. And finally Mr Speaker the Commission reform proposed, namely the stripping of the executive’s power to propose legislation, will almost certainly never get off of the ground so it is barely worth more than a passing acknowledgement. Indeed, it would be unthinkable and unconscionable in this country to deprive the Government of the ability to propose legislation, so why would Europe accept such a system?
Mr Speaker this Throne Speech may have been a general direction, a sort of roadmap through the next five years if you will, but it betrays far more than the watered down ideological bent that the Prime Minister ran on just last month. A month’s negotiations have resulted in a Prime Minister who is in office but not in power, her flagship policies have been outright rejected or heavily watered down at every turn, she has been strong armed by her party and her partners on everything from electoral reform and collective responsibility, to nationalisation, to taxation policy. The Liberal Democrats on the other hand have well and truly broken with the past, with the age of fiscal responsibility and living within our means in a low tax, high efficiency economy. They have u-turned again on core issues, they have abandoned their pledge to fund the NHS, and they have been lulled into supporting a 338% increase in the Bank Levy through Section 8 of the coalition document that accompanied this speech. This government is weak, it is rudderless, and it is leaderless. Leadership requires the making of tough decisions when they arise, this speech shows that the government will simply kick the can to the end of the road, then keep on walking.
Conservative MP for North East Bedfordshire
Leader of the Opposition
Prime Minister (2014)
Parliamentary Experience: Unknown (14)
Media Experience: Capable (45)
Policy Experience: Unknown (13)
If I may start by saying that the best achievement within this coalition agreement is paragraph 8. We have done something with this paragraph that is, I think, truly unprecedented and sets, I believe, a very good precedent for future hung parliaments. What we have done is said that, if an explicit objection is not raised and there’s not an innate contradiction, every part of both manifestos will form part of our governing mandate.
This is, I think, a tremendous step forward. The trust it has enabled, the innovate and comprehensive policy programme it has constructed, is all very welcome. It means that a vast majority of both Labour and Liberal Democrat voters will be able to look at how we govern and say that the manifesto commitments and values that motivated their votes were kept. Nobody explicitly voted for a coalition. The option was not on the ballot paper - and nor should it be. But a provision such as paragraph 8 helps ensure that this government enjoys a strong democratic mandate. We will still have differing visions and values, of course, but we have built upon those shared values in a constructive and accountable way.
And Mr Speaker, the end result has the potential to be a great liberalising government, reversing the illiberal practices of governments both red and blue, ensuring a sustainable future. We will be bold in investing in our education, our future economic capacity, our ability to weather the challenges and seize the opportunities of the future. We will create a fair and equitable tax system, expanding the personal allowance and shifting the tax burdens necessary to fund public services to more efficient and equitable models. We will use the best ideas of both parties to balance the deficit and begin, sustainably, getting our debt under control.
We will invest in science and research, in our creative industries, in rural economies, in helping those who are most vulnerable and who have been left behind by globalisation. We will be bold social reformers, promoting LGBT+ rights, defending civil liberties, making the positive case for immigration, ending the disastrous war on drugs, promoting a fairer and more democratic world, fighting to fix our broken political system. There is much to be excited about here. Many achievements that will be made, many accomplishments to be delivered.
But that is why it is so disappointed to see the unashamed Project Fear from those on the opposition benches. If I may say, it is quite hilarious for the former prime minister to criticise those on these benches for flip-flopping and breaking ignoble records for resignations. Those in glass houses should not throw stones, Mr Speaker. But that act of hilarity aside, the rest of the leader of the opposition’s speech was more frustrating.
His complaints about our fiscal strategies? Entirely misplaced. Complete fearmongering. He ignores the many other deficit reduction measures contained within both manifestos and, in an act of ridiculous economic malpractice, seems to think that, as we have ruled out a tax rate above 50% or sharp escalations in rates, that that means the whole £24 billion in extra revenue will not be raised. Mr Speaker, this government will ask the most well-off to pay a bit more, a fair and reasonable and evenly-burdened extra amount, to the fiscal consolidation of this country, just as we will give every worker and every pensioner a tax cut by continuing to increase the personal allowance. That £30bn shortfall the member cites doesn’t exist.
And there are many more inaccuracies. He says that collective cabinet responsibility has been cherry-picked. Again, not true. The leader of the opposition seems to struggle with the concept that coalition partners can, by mutual agreement, accept that some issues may need to be settled without relying on traditional one-party means of cabinet discipline. To say that that represents some great blow to collective cabinet responsibility is not true. He says the country positively reaffirmed first past the post - again, not true. He uses figures from the US to criticise our infrastructure plan - without any reasoning, without any justification, and again without the basic economic understanding of the distinction between capital and current spending.
The inaccuracies perhaps reach their greatest degree when it comes to the issue of Europe. Mr Speaker, I was left with the conclusion that the leader of the opposition didn’t read paragraph 8. He certainly didn’t understand its implications. For example, the coalition agreement says we will argue to end the practice of the European Parliament spending one week every month in Strasbourg. That is government policy. Same with empowering the European Parliament and repealing the tampon tax. Yet the leader of the opposition chides us for not calling for that. That is a basic failure of research. The leader of the opposition would understand that if he took the care to actually understand what his political opponents are saying, but in fairness, I have never known him to do that.
And then he goes on to attack the idea of an elected President, a Senate, a single EU-Commonwealth trade agreement. Now these ideas, they are NOT government policy. We in the Liberal Democrats had doubts about them, so wanted to discuss the principles and the components of those ideas in a more deliberate good faith manner throughout the tenure of government. They were Labour Party manifesto policies and he should have argued against them during the campaign. But now he seeks to attack them as government policy when they’re not.
It is, in a way, a welcome development to see the Conservative Party now developing ideas and proposals. But if I may say so, they should have invested some time and energy into doing that before the election. None of the ideas on EU reform, for example, were in the threadbare manifesto that the Conservative Party put out - and neither did they make any of their criticisms on Labour or Liberal Democrat EU reform proposals, which in the interest of transparency and fair discussion were actually in our manifestos.
Why did they not spend this time putting forward policy ideas before the election? Mr Speaker, I don’t know for certain but I have a theory. They didn’t put forward any bold new ideas or substantive policy points forward in their manifesto because they were too busy fighting amongst themselves. Officially the last coalition was between two parties - the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats - but in reality the Conservatives had fractured.
One faction was a sane, progressive, forward-thinking wing, that preached the Conservative mantra of responsibility and cautious government but understood the fact that the world was changing. You could disagree with this faction - and I did and I continue to do so, often and robustly - but they were not dogmatic. They were not callous. They were in the best tradition of the Conservative Party, part of the rich pluralistic fabric that makes our democracy healthy.
But then you had some zealous elements. Perhaps they were cold and indifferent to those who were not like them, so backwards in their thinking and reactionary in their approach as to oppose a pardon for Alan Turing. This is the faction that preaches xenophobia, transphobia, homophobia, views the impoverished as deserving of their plight. Then you have another faction, a faction that seems to be the worst excesses of the American Tea Party, conspiratorial and libertarian to the extreme, that has a ruthlessly dogmatic hostility to the role of government. Then you have the largest dogmatic faction - the GBC cabal - and they are basically UKIP members in blue, allies of the second-to-last administration who didn’t get the memo that their virulent brand of politics doesn’t work.
But there is one more faction and it is perhaps the most unpleasant of all the factions. It is personified by the leader of the opposition. They will bow and bend to whatever faction is currently the most useful for their political careers. They will place party unity above national unity. They have no ideas of their own to bring to the table.
The Conservative Party needs this time in opposition. Three prime ministers in one year is not the sign, after all, of a party that has its house in order. They need this time in opposition to decide who they are. They need this time in opposition to figure out what style of politics they aspire towards. They wanted to sort this out while in government, even if it came at the expense of stability and certainty. That was reckless. That was irresponsible. They were punished by the British people for that.
What we have instead is a bold and reforming government. Committed to fixing our democracy. Committed to ensuring Britain is a positive force for good on the global stage. Committed to addressing the challenges of the 21st century, be they environmental, social, or economic. Committed to individual liberty, human rights, equality of opportunity, and a sustainable future for all. I urge all members of this House to support this agreement.
Graham Adiputera (Lib Dem - Sutton and Cheam)
Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Climate Change
Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Technology
Parliamentary - 20
Media - 36
Policy - 26
Mr Speaker if I may take a moment to respond to the Right Honourable Gentleman.
I'm glad to hear from the Liberal Democrats that the Government takes fiscal responsibility seriously but I am afraid that their sums just do not add up. The spending plans as laid out in both parties' manifestos are predicated on some pretty staggering tax increases. The Liberal Democrats proposed an income tax rise on every single taxpayer in the land to raise £6bn for NHS spending, this coalition agreement abolishes that plan, in fact it rules such a plan out for the entire five years. Where will the Government find this six billion pounds or will the NHS be going without any meaningful investment? Then there's the Labour Party plan for the top rate of income tax, another plan that was set out in their party's manifesto. The Labour Party pledged to lower the top rate of income tax threshold to £100k and then to increase the rate payable to a whopping 60%. Now as economically damaging as this plan would have been the forecasts that have been made (by the IG Budget Pack) put the revenue raised by this tax rate at £50bn, the consequences of capping the tate rise at 50% and not changing the threshold? A £26bn loss. So far from being Project Fear Mr Speaker, the estimates I initially raised in my speech were a lowball to the tune of £2bn. This Throne Speech has taken £32bn out of its revenue plan without taking any money out of its expenditure plan, this Government doesn't even know the meaning of the phrase fiscal credibility. Other deficit reduction measures or not, there is a hole here that did not exist before the two sides came together for their quaint little chat.
The point rebutting my assertion that First Past the Post is very well made in so far as it contained no point, no facts, and barely any assertion. The fact of the matter is that there was a referendum about replacing First Past the Post with a new system that the Liberal Democrats agreed to when in Government, they agreed to everything about it but when the First Past the Post system won out they decided to execute another of their neat little u-turns. It is clear that between this issue and the issue of an EU referendum the Right Honourable Members do not actually care what the people of this country want or what they care about, they just want to keep on bulldozing through their constitutional agenda and to hell with the consequences and to hell with what was previously expressed when First Past the Post was selected by the electorate to remain as our system for elections.
Now I will concede that I used US figures for the infrastructure plan, over the course of 10yrs the US Congress regularly talks about a figure of $1tn to spend, so in the absence of an actual figure in this document, any press and media engagements, or indeed anywhere else on the face of God's green Earth I think this plan adjusted for both exchange rate and size of population presents a ballpark figure which can be used for constructive debate. Of course the Government isn't interested in constructive debate they want to bulldoze through their deficit inflating measures as if this country isn't already spending more on schools, the armed forces, or police on debt interest alone. The Government's revenue plans have a £32bn hole in them, when you start putting reasonable figures to the Government's expenditure plans you start to find that this agenda holds about as much water as the average colander.
And then Mr Speaker we move onto Europe, a great topic of intrigue as I'm sure everyone in this House will be aware. It's clear that at a time of rampant euroscepticism, where parties like UKIP are able to grow pretty much at will and public discontent isn't just noticeable but should be unavoidable this Government is determined to drive us further into Europe. Now I do not believe in the cause of ever deeper integration but even Eurocrats will baulk at some of the ideas mooted by this document. Even if some of these ideas are not "official" government policy they represent the views of over 65% of the governing MPs and presumably 65% of the Cabinet since the Labour Party stood on pretty much all of them. If these measures do not matter as the Right Honourable Gentleman for Sutton and Cheam seems keen to emphasise then why are they even here? Why are they in the document? The fact of the matter Mr Speaker is that there is a very real possibility that this Government is going to fart our national sovereignty up a wall by undermining the Council of the European Union as one of the chief organs of the EU through constitutional "renegotiation" and they are going to be overly ambitious in their reforms to the European Parliament. I have laid out in this House and in the press a plan for EU reform that could command the support of the opposition and the support of the vast majority of the rest of the EU28. I am glad to see that these points are government policy but the potential to alienate our partners by asking for a revolution in the EU is very real and it is one that the Government must be mindful of.
Mr Speaker, all that the Right Honourable Gentleman's outburst has shown is just how rudderless this Government is going to be. They have had to resort to attempting to brand legitimate criticism of their plans as "project fear" and frankly they have used some pretty poor deflection to get around the fact that their plans are simply sorely lacking. This Government has been ambitious, of this point there is simply no denial. They have presented a plan for Government that could well have a funding shortage that nudges up to £50bn, £32bn in revenue shortfalls and then even more in unquantified spending commitments in desperate need of estimates. This is a Government so desperate to wear the moniker of fiscal responsibility that it proposes that we increase the Bank Levy by 338% just to try and mask the fact that their sums do not add up. Mr Speaker they can try and paper over the cracks as much as they like, they can try and hide the hole they have dug under a great canopy if they want to, but at the end of the day the facts don't lie. This Government's ideas involve more borrowing, more debt, and more EU integration at a time when borrowing needs to fall, debt is at an all time high, and the EU has never been more distrusted in this country. I urge the House to reject this agenda.
Conservative MP for North East Bedfordshire
Leader of the Opposition
Prime Minister (2014)
Parliamentary Experience: Unknown (14)
Media Experience: Capable (45)
Policy Experience: Unknown (13)