Debate on the Address (2016)
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.
The Prime Minister! (24 hours, text of the Queen's Speech will be below).
Rick the Admin - The Resident Psephologist
Admin for Cabinet, PM's Office, DPM's Office, Defence, Energy, Regions, Environment, Transport, Communities, Elections, and Advisor to Labour and the Lib Dems
Senators and Members of the House of Commons:
My government will legislate for the benefit of all Britons, with the goals of promoting prosperity, providing opportunity, protecting wellbeing, and ensuring national security.
My government will make combating climate change a top priority.
My government will legislate to implement the provisions of the Paris Climate Accord, committing the United Kingdom to decarbonisation and achieving carbon neutrality by 2050. Financial measures to fully implements this goal, including providing the Green Investment Bank with borrowing powers, will be presented.
My government will propose new mandates for the use of low emission, alternative fuel, and electric vehicles and their fuels.
My ministers will implement standards to decarbonise the transport sector and electrify all major rail routes in the United Kingdom.
My government will introduce new energy efficiency standards for homes and work to reduce fuel poverty by decreasing reliance on fuel for homes.
My government will accomplish this green transition while committing to maintaining economic stability, keeping interest rates low, encouraging growth, and increasing productivity.
My ministers will promote fiscal stability by continuing to promote deficit reduction and committing to reducing the deficit as a share of GDP each year.
My government will seek to remove low earners from tax entirely.
My government will work to make the United Kingdom a leader in the digital economy, facilitating a transition to new, information intensive industries. To ensure no Briton is left out of this transition, measures will be brought before you to ensure every Briton has access to fast broadband.
My government will commit to increasing spending on research and development.
My government will promote innovation by strengthening intellectual property law.
My government will focus on skills development in the workplace by identifying and providing meaningful funding to high-value apprenticeships.
My government will work to strengthen markets and introduce new measures to facilitate competition and spur innovation. Reforms will be made to the energy sector to promote lower costs for consumers.
My government will legislate to promote cooperatives as a mechanism for increasing worker participation in the economy.
My government will continue investing in infrastructure, including the completion of High Speed 2 and Crossrail, in order to link the United Kingdom. Measures will be put before you to support all types of transport, including rail and bus.
My ministers will tackle the issue of low pay in work, expand legal avenues to fight low pay, and work towards implementing a National Living Wage.
My government will work to ensure all have access to financial services. Measures will be implemented to introduce new flexibility for consumers in the financial services sector. Further measures will be laid before you to protect consumers from predatory lenders.
My government will propose legislation to increase the rights of those at work, including strengthening the right to bargain collectively.
My government will promote continued reform of employment contracts and agreements, providing more rights to those on zero-hour contracts and supporting workers in the gig economy.
My government will increase spending on public services in real terms year on year.
My government will strive to ensure that the National Health Service has the necessary resources to provide care for every person in this country.
My ministers will seek to place new emphasis on public health and preventative medicine in the National Health Service, reducing costs by tackling the prevalence of disease.
My government will legislate to create a National Care Service.
My government will take action to empower local authorities, and the Department of Education, to reform failing schools and ensure the highest quality education for children.
My ministers will propose measures to strengthen the teaching profession and provide teachers with new opportunities.
My government will legislate to mandate the teaching of critical life skills, such as financial preparedness, in our schools.
My government will work to reform the rented housing sector, abolishing tenancy fees and ensuring that all homes are fit for human habitation.
My government will commit to building more social housing and make it easier for local councils to build more housing.
My government will make new provision to combat homelessness and rough sleeping.
My government will legislate to reduce waste by promoting recycling, building a circular economy, and introducing tougher penalties for waste crimes.
My government will protect green spaces from development and promote a greener nation.
Measures will be laid before you to establish a national plan for protecting our green spaces and granting statutory footing to the National Capital Committee.
My government will strive to improve air quality and ensure the provision of clean air as a human right. Measures will be laid before you to expand low emission zones and create incentives for alternative forms of transport, such as cycling.
My government will strive to ensure proper accountability for police by completing a review and replacing Police and Crime Commissioners with a more effective alternative.
My government shall seek to combat crime by continuing to invest in more police and promoting a transition to genuine neighbourhood policing.
My government will take action to combat modern slavery.
My government will legislate to combat violence against women and crimes of a sexual nature. Measures will be laid before you to ratify the Istanbul Convention on Preventing and Combating All Forms of Violence Against Women and Domestic Violence.
My government will legislate against all forms of discrimination. Measures will be put before you to ban conversion therapy.
My government will convene cross-party consultations on elections to the Senate and dispute resolution between the Senate and House of Commons.
Measures will be brought before you to legislate a lasting constitutional settlement between the national government and the nations. My government will propose devolving further fiscal powers to Scotland. Consultations will be held on the devolution of justice to Wales, as well as devolution of further fiscal powers following the outcome of the forthcoming referendum on devolving tax powers. My government will continue to pursue a lasting peace in Northern Ireland.
My government will ensure the rights of all British citizens to vote in all elections.
My government will safeguard national security and the British people.
My government will support unreservedly the men and women of the British Armed Forces, both those at home and engaged abroad. Measures will be taken to improve quality of life for members of the armed services and fulfill the Armed Forces Covenant.
My government will remain a leader in the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and will commit to meeting our commitment to spending 2% of GDP on defence.
My ministers will take a leading role in managing the international coalition and campaign against Daesh.
My government will work to secure our nation against the threat of terrorism. Steps will be taken to disrupt recruitment and travel to terrorist held areas. Measures will be enacted to deny terrorists access to criminal finance. A report will be commissioned on state sponsors of terrorism and methods to promote further sanctions upon them.
My government will stand resolute against the use of chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear weapons. Britain will honor international agreements to diminish the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and take a leading role in preventing their further spread.
My government will work to support refugees from violent conflict in the Middle East and around the world. Prior to their admittance, measures will be laid before you detailing the plans in place to support the settlement of refugees in the United Kingdom.
My government will meet our international commitment of spending 0.7% of GDP on international aid.
My government remains committed to reforming the European Union from within, promoting democratic reform and working to affirm Britain’s rights.
Recognising that the European Union increases our bargaining power, my government will work towards promoting trade agreements between the European Union and the United States and our Commonwealth allies.
Members of the House of Commons:
Estimates for the public services will be laid before you.
Senators and Members of the House of Commons:
Other measures will be laid before you.
I pray that the blessing of Almighty God may rest upon your counsels.
Rick the Admin - The Resident Psephologist
Admin for Cabinet, PM's Office, DPM's Office, Defence, Energy, Regions, Environment, Transport, Communities, Elections, and Advisor to Labour and the Lib Dems
I would like to begin by thanking the men and women in Britain’s Armed Forces for their service to our nation and the work they do to defend the United Kingdom around the world. As we debate today, British servicemembers are preparing to launch new campaigns against terrorists in Iraq and Syria, are working to defeat the terrorist threat in Afghanistan, and are operating in support of humanitarian missions elsewhere. Moreover, one must commend the servicemembers in our reserves and auxiliary forces, especially those onboard the RFA Lyme Bay who acted so capably in responding to the terrorist attack onboard the Norwegian Escape. Day after day these men and women project the best of Britain around the world, and we must commend them for their service.
Madam Speaker, I wish to extend upon the remarks of the proposer and seconder of the motion and thank Her Majesty for her delivery today’s address. Her Majesty is to, once again, be commended for the delivery of the address with the poise and grace that encapsulates her time as sovereign. It had been quite some time since we had the pleasure of hearing Her Majesty’s address and the Government is pleased to have rectified that by returning to the standard Parliamentary sessions established under the previous Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition.
In the past weeks a dramatic shift occurred in British politics. For the first time in our history, no politicians sit in Parliament by virtue of hereditary privilege. No politicians sit in Parliament without having been first elected. That is a dramatic shift for democracy in our nation. We shall continue to support this experiment in democracy and work to ensure that our institutions are fit for purpose.
The speech that Her Majesty gave today is a recognition of how far we’ve come since the end of the austerity insisted on by the previous Conservative-led administration. Since 2013 and the last Finance Act that a Conservative-led administration produced, growth increased, inflation fell, more jobs were created, and wages, instead of falling, increased in real terms. Spending on our health services increased by nearly 10% in real terms. The same can be said for education. Our renewed focus on increasing capital spending is improving the capacity of Britain to be productive. Simply put, Madam Speaker, this administration is working: working for working people, working for our public services, working for Britain.
Yet that does not mean that there is not more work to be done: there absolutely is. There are a great number of challenges that Britain faces. There is a climate catastrophe that threatens not just our island home, but our planet as well. Our nation is burdened by a productivity crisis that restrained growth and opportunity for years. Low pay and an objectively cruel welfare policy implemented by the previous administration fuel in-work poverty. There is a looming disaster in social care and our National Health Service demands further investment and reform. Since taking office, this Labour-led administration worked to solve these problems, but it is clear that there is work that remains.
The Government laid out an ambitious agenda to strengthen our economy, to transform our public services, to protect our environment, and to secure our people in the world. Let there be no question, Madam Speaker: this is a renewed government. This is a government with strong leadership at the helm. The governing coalition has a plurality of the vote in the newly elected Senate. The governing coalition, in the Queen’s Speech, laid out a progressive agenda for Britain. The priorities laid before the House today are ambitious, Madam Speaker. They amount to a fundamental recommitment to the basic bargain to which each and every Briton is entitled. The governing coalition, in the coming year, will work diligently to implement these priorities.
Madam Speaker: this government is making a historic commitment to combating climate change. We intend to put forward a statement on the ratification of the Paris Agreement negotiated in the past year. This will be accompanied by legislation enshrining the goals established in the Paris Agreement in British law. This will include affirming our commitment to a zero-carbon Britain, as outlined in the Coalition Agreement, and embarking on a mandate for decarbonisation and renewable energy production. Madam Speaker, this government’s commitment to meaningful climate change legislation is absolute.
Moreover, Madam Speaker, we will not just propose legal mandates to meet our goals on emissions reduction, renewable energy, and decarbonisation. We will match those mandates with investment: partnering with energy producers to facilitate investment in low carbon energy technologies and dramatically expanding the borrowing power for the Green Investment Bank to release £18 billion in capital for new energy technologies. That is a historic investment in green energy that will make Britain the world leader in green development.
In addition to investment in low carbon and green energy, Madam Speaker, the Government is committed to ensuring that our transport sector is the greenest in the world. The new Mayor of London committed to increasing low emission zones and we will support that endeavour, both in London and in other cities around our nation. We have laid legislation before the House to introduce a statutory mandate for the government to electrify all major railways by 2025 and also to ensure all buses are electric or low emission. This will be expanded upon by introducing new requirements for cleaner fuels and investing in Britain’s electric vehicle infrastructure.
Of course, Madam Speaker, one cannot discuss confronting climate change and investing in clean energy and industry in the United Kingdom without discussing the productivity crisis in the United Kingdom.
Madam Speaker, the government, over the past two years, has taken numerous steps to confront our productivity crisis. The British Business Bank now provides financing to small enterprises and startups that are in critical need of investment and may be slightly higher risk than some financiers could stomach. We have invested in building the Northern Powerhouse and the Midlands Engine. We invested, consistently, in Britain’s rail infrastructure - working to complete both Crossrail and HS2, as well as other projects such as the electrification of the Great Western Main Line. These are measures that will increase the productivity, Madam Speaker. However, there is more that must be done.
Research and innovation are the cornerstones of British productivity, Madam Speaker. It is for that reason that the government will continue to invest in research and innovation spending - a record that only this government can claim. This will be expanded to include not just our Research Councils, Madam Speaker, but also government-sponsored research in the areas of energy, health and medicine, and defence. We will work to train the innovative workforce by increasing collaboration between government, universities, and industry to train more top-level researchers in strategic industries and STEM fields. Moreover, Madam Speaker, the Government will protect Britain’s innovators by introducing reforms to Britain’s intellectual property law to provide further protection against frivolous lawsuits.
We must focus on infrastructure as well: both physical and digital. The Government is committed, as was outlined in the Queen’s Speech, to expanding super-fast broadband to every household in the United Kingdom and working to establish fibre-optic networks where possible in emerging technology and economic hubs. There can be no doubt that we are committed to building the digital infrastructure that will provide benefits to every British household, as well as provide the resources necessary for companies across the United Kingdom to continue to grow. This investment in physical infrastructure will be matched by our investment in physical infrastructure, which will include beginning consultations on HS3, electrifying further rail lines, and building a new infrastructure, as previously mentioned, in support of low carbon and electric vehicles.
Increasing productivity will also require us to increase the opportunity for new firms and enterprises to take root and thrive in the British economy. Fueling innovation requires creating a marketplace for innovation in which new services and technologies can be provided to consumers at an affordable, competitive rate. The government will commit to improving the British marketplace and supporting small entrepreneurs and innovators by strengthening competition law. We must move from a model in which we ask, “what harm will a reduction in competition do?” to a model in which we focus on promoting competition as a means of reducing costs and fueling innovation. The government will do just this in forthcoming legislation.
Finally, Madam Speaker, we will address the skills crisis in British society. Steps will be taken to create 1 million new apprenticeships over the course of this Parliament, with a focus on apprenticeships in emerging, high tech industries and apprenticeships that produce the greatest pay premium for workers. Moreover, Madam Speaker, to ensure the effectiveness of apprenticeship training, we will coordinate a third party review of apprenticeship training providers to identify those that provide the greatest service to employers, as well as the best training for apprentices. We will ensure that this policy is fully funded and increase the capabilities of the Institute on Apprenticeships to meet the increased demands that will be levied upon them.
An investment in training, Madam Speaker, is but a small portion of what we shall offer to British workers. This government is committed to removing the lowest paid workers from taxation entirely. My Rt Hon Friend, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, shall expand upon this commitment further at budget. We believe that forthcoming tax changes will contribute to a reduction of in-work poverty that was fueled by previous administrations. However, we are pleased to present further proposals to strengthen the rights and incomes of those in work and fuel a reduction of in-work poverty across the United Kingdom.
First, Madam Speaker, this government is committed to reducing the harsh edges of the Universal Credit and British welfare policy. Madam Speaker, let me be clear: the Conservative experiment with welfare reform condemned millions of Britons to in-work poverty. It condemned them! We have only just begun reversing the harsh policies inflicted on Britain, as my Rt Hon Friend, the Deputy Prime Minister, announced in a previous statement to the House. My other Rt Hon Friend, the Chancellor, will announce further measures and legislation to reform the Universal Credit in due course, diminishing the harm that it causes to workers across our nation. We will not use welfare policy as a tool to punish those most in need of a hand up. We will not forget the average working Briton.
Second, Madam Speaker, the government will work to strengthen the enforcement of workers rights. Madam Speaker, the government announced during the last session of the House that we are repealing employment tribunal fees, which deprived so many workers, especially women, of justice. We will enact measures in the coming term to strengthen the enforcement powers of these tribunals and ensure that workers receive the justice to which they are entitled. Moreover, Madam Speaker, we will strengthen enforcement of the National Minimum Wage, granting local authorities and other government agencies more power to cooperate with Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs to ensure workers are paid what they are legally obligated to. Finally, Madam Speaker, to protect rights at work, the government will move forward with legislation strengthening the rights of workers to bargain collectively.
Madam Speaker, protecting the rights of those in low pay does nothing if we do not work to decrease the cost of living. In the past session, the government worked to reduce the cost of water for British families. In this coming session we will work to reduce the cost of electricity for British families, including reducing the cost the single variable tariff for power and injecting greater competition into the electricity market. We anticipate that electricity savings, if implemented properly, could save the average family between £400 and £600 a year. Those are real savings that will help working families and reduce in-work poverty. There is a poverty premium paid by the least well-off in society, Madam Speaker, and this government is committed to reducing the cost of essential services in such a way that we can eliminate the poverty premium and support working families.
A critical aspect of tackling in-work poverty, Madam Speaker, will be increasing financial inclusion and ensuring that every person in our nation maintains access to financial services. My Rt Hon Friend, the Chancellor of the Duchy and Paymaster General, will present legislation in due course to increase access to banking services and reduce the prevalence of underbanked areas in the United Kingdom. This will be combined with legislation to crack down on payday lenders that seek to exploit working Britons.
Moving on, Madam Speaker, the government will continue to support the British people by making meaningful investments in public services. Our record validates this, as we have made historic investments in our National Health Service and our schools - reversing the austerity imposed upon them by previous administrations. Our goals to increase the provision of public services are clear, Madam Speaker. Additional, innovative measures will be laid before Parliament in forthcoming days to achieve this.
A hallmark of our agenda on public services will be the introduction of a National Care Service, Madam Speaker. The consultations that led to the decision to implement a National Care Service will shortly be laid before Parliament for consideration. It is our goal that this service will be fully integrated with the National Health Service, facilitating a simple transition for those that seek medical treatment and then require care in the aftermath. Such a service would further provide for direct integration with local authorities and the Department of Work and Pensions, facilitating a return to training, to apprenticeships, to work, and to housing and local services for those in care. This national service will be free to all Britons and will provide for an equitable resolution to our care crisis.
Moreover, Madam Speaker, while there is a crisis in social care, there is also a crisis in housing. That too is a crisis that this government will confront head on. We will work to provide protection to those in the rented sector and, through the Housing and Infrastructure Development Bank, provide further critical financing to facilitate housing construction across our nation.
Moving on, Madam Speaker, the government will seek to ensure that the constitution of our nation is managed effectively. This will include cross-party discussions on ensuring that the Senate is fit for purpose. Additionally, it will include the publication of legislation to generate a lasting devolution settlement for our nations. The details of such agreements will be presented following the referendum on the devolution of taxation powers to the Welsh devolved government and following appropriate consultation with the Scottish and Welsh devolved administrations.
As I previously mentioned, Madam Speaker, the government will stand in resolute support of our men and women in uniform. As British airmen prepare to engage Daesh over Syria and Iraq, our commitment to British servicemen and women will remain absolute. We will conduct our air campaign in cooperation with our allies and will provide appropriate updates to this House on their progress. We are absolutely committed to victory, Madam Speaker, and victory is what we shall absolutely achieve.
However, the campaign against Daesh is not just a military campaign, Madam Speaker. It is a campaign that must be waged effectively on the home front as well. My Rt Hon Friend, the Home Secretary, presented legislation in the last session that we will continue debating now to strengthen our laws against terrorism. This will be aided by further legislation to combat illicit financing of terrorism and other criminal enterprises, as well as legislation to support a meaningful, global counterterrorism strategy. These measures will be laid before the House in due course, though some have already been presented by the government in the form of an amendment.
On the matter of meeting our obligations towards NATO, Madam Speaker, the government is committed to meeting this obligation. I would note that the only reason we did not meet this obligation last year was because we found billions of pounds of savings in spending at the Ministry of Defence. These savings will, this year, be reinvested in defence spending in order to enhance procurement and further strengthen our armed forces. Every tool necessary to defeat Daesh will be provided. Further details of our planned investment in the armed forces will be announced in due course, in line with a complete consultation with the Defence Staff.
Finally, Madam Speaker, I will address the topic of refugees. As we have all seen the recent news about the loss of life in the Mediterranean, it is clear that something must be done. My predecessor announced the goal of providing refugees with a safe haven in this country. Government is committed to working towards that goal. However, it will not be done hastily, without regard for security and preparedness in the United Kingdom. We will further use this policy to discourage dangerous crossings of the Mediterranean by working with our European allies to facilitate enhanced screening of refugees at refugee camps in the Middle East, which will be followed by coordinated and safe transport to Europe and, when ready, the United Kingdom.
We have a moral, human obligation to reduce the plight of refugees from conflict, Madam Speaker. The government is committed to meeting this obligation. It will be done in firm cooperation with our security services, our public services, and our local and devolved governments, as we discuss allowing refugees resettlement in Britain. It will be done in collaboration with the United Nations, the European Union, and our global allies as we seek to repurpose British foreign aid towards helping those that are in dire need abroad.
In the Queen’s Speech the Government outlined a bold, progressive agenda for Britain. It is an agenda that we believe to be wholly achievable and one which we will legislate for in the coming year. This is an agenda that will help millions across our country with a stronger economy, with better access to public services, with protected rights at work, with clean air and a green environment, and with their security safeguarded. It is an agenda that promises real change that will promote productivity in Britain: spurring innovation, promoting competition, and facilitating investment.
With new leadership, myself and my Right Hon Friend, the Deputy Prime Minister, are committed to legislating in the national interest - to building the prosperous and fair Britain in which all are allowed to succeed - without regard to gender, race, sexual orientation, or class. We seek to move past the errors of the past and towards a brighter future for every Briton. And we will achieve that, Madam Speaker. We will. We must.
With that, Madam Speaker, I will join the proposer and seconder in commending this motion to the House!
MP for Hammersmith
Parliamentary: Unknown (13)
Media: Unknown (17)
Policy: Unknown (18)
Madame Speaker, I would like to begin my remarks today by expressing my own personal gratitude, and I’m sure the gratitude of this House, to Her Majesty the Queen. For decades now, she has been a constant in our political system and a source of stability for our nation, as the entire World changes around us in ever more unsettling ways it is good to know that she is still sitting on the throne to offer her council to the sitting Prime Minister and fulfill her duties with grace, poise, and the sheer dedication with which she has done throughout her entire reign. Madame Speaker, I would also like to welcome the 400 new Senators, a clear plurality of whom are of the Conservative Party. The Senate was, as many in this House have been keen to point out, one of the things I pushed most vociferously during my brief tenure as an independent MP and despite the Government’s changes, some for good, some not, it fills me with immense pleasure and pride to have stood in an almost fully-elected other Chamber. Finally Madame Speaker I turn my welcome to the Prime Minister herself, the third Prime Minister of the last year, to her first Throne Speech, for all the chaos of Government recently I genuinely wish her the best as she charts the United Kingdom’s course through the next three years before the public decide again whom out of the pair of us shall take residence in Number 10.
In a similar vein Madame Speaker I would like to join the Prime Minister in thanking the men and women in Britain’s Armed Forces for their service to our nation and the work they do to defend the United Kingdom around the world. I would like to associate myself with her comments with regards to the new campaigns being waged against the destructive forces of Islamic Terror across the Middle East and Afghanistan and with regards to our auxiliary and civilian personnel who conducted themselves with such professionalism as we have come to expect from our armed forces, truly the best in the World bar none.
Sadly Madame Speaker this is where the pleasantries must be drawn to their conclusion because right out of the gate I have to rebut the statements made by the Right Honourable Lady the Prime Minister. Was it Lloyd George who once said that there are lies, damned lies, and statistics? Because the statistics the Prime Minister brought to the House today bear little resemblance to the realities as they are perceived outside this House. Madame Speaker in the first budget that this Government presented they inherited a growth rate of 2.3% - a withdrawn budget, several broken promises, and a run on the pound later growth has fallen to 1.9%, a decidedly clear step in the wrong direction. So I ask the Prime Minister whether she has as much sense of numbers as her immediate predecessor the former Chancellor and Prime Minister Calvin Ward had. He once famously claimed a £1000 tax cut that actually turned out to be around £200, now this Prime Minister claims that growth is rising whilst it is actually falling. Inflation meanwhile, while down, is about 1% higher than forecast in the worst case scenarios such as an international slowdown. So the Government’s £20bn+ spending splurge that will take decades to pay off has done nothing to help growth, which has fallen, all it has done is push prices higher. Again on wages, wages were increasing under the Conservative Party in real terms. The Prime Minister seems to be desperate to take credit for Conservative Party achievements, one can see why when in previous budgets this Government has generated a run on the pound, abolished the triple lock, cut sure start, abandoned the 2% NATO defence target, and cut the prison capacity of this country. With an economic record like that it is no wonder that the Conservative Party had such a runaway success in the Senate, kicked Labour out of Wales’ executive, and became the first party in about a century to beat Labour in Wales, doing it twice in the same election. This has been a Government of chaos, confusion, and broken promises that we can be quite sure about. It’s little wonder that the Prime Minister prorogued Parliament, she was running scared on defence, she was running scared on elections, and she was running scared from the law who let’s remember said she came dangerously close to misuse of public office. If I might offer the Prime Minister some advice it would be this, stop running away from your record, stop stealing the Conservative record, start actually delivering for the people of this country.
I find some of the Prime Ministers’ budgetary boasts rather intriguing Madame Speaker because it was the Conservative Party who pledged to outspend Labour on hospitals and primary care in the first budget despite keeping to our deficit cutting commitment, that was the budget where famously Labour increased the deficit and they still couldn’t find the money to beat our offer to hospitals. Their boasts on education are equally intriguing considering that each and every year the Conservative Party have pledged to protect per-student funding at universities in real terms whereas Labour have cut per-student funding in real terms for each of the past two years. Maybe the Government should abandon silly gimmicks in education such as the Liberal Democrats’ second u-turn in a decade on tuition fees and start actually promising frontline funding for our higher education. Remember it was the Conservative Party who pledged 3 million apprentices by the end of the Parliament, last year the Government couldn’t increase the annual allocation by 1. When it comes to education in this country the message is clear, the Conservative Party are the party of the future, Labour just want to throw money at a broken down system in the hopes that they can paper over enough cracks to manage the United Kingdom’s decline. Labour are the party of decline, the Tories are the party of the future, as is always the way Madame Speaker. Finally on the subject of capital spending I welcome the Prime Minister’s views on the subject but I am here to tell her an unfortunate truth, her predecessor’s plan to simply throw money at the wall in the vain hope that something sticks has left us with a borrowing bill that will take over a decade to pay for itself. Madame Speaker this is a lost decade of mortgaged futures because this Government couldn’t make up its mind as to whether it was pro-austerity or anti-austerity, one year they grow the deficit, the next they cut Sure Start, the country needs to know where this Government stands because at the moment it seems to stand in opposition to itself.
But Madame Speaker I did not come here merely to slate the Government for their disastrous record, a record that once again includes attempting to pitch millions of pensioners into pension poverty by removing the triple lock, a record that includes conspiring with the Scottish Nationalists to try and destroy Scottish devolution proposals, and a record that includes abandoning the 2% target for the defence of the realm. Neither Madame Speaker did I come here to lecture the Government on their humiliating electoral results, electoral results which saw Labour kicked out of Scotland resolutely for their willingness to work with the SNP against Scotland’s interests, electoral results which saw the Labour Party lose two national elections in Wales for the first time in decades, and electoral results which saw the Government get nowhere near a majority in the Senate. No I came here to talk about the Throne Speech and to give an open and honest appraisal of the Government’s plans until the next time they are faced with difficult circumstances and decide to prorogue.
Madame Speaker, I must admit that I will begin this speech by bamboozling and befuddling many of the commentators because the speech begins with a set of proposals that I very much agree with, mainly because these are solid Conservative policies. My Right Honourable Friend the Shadow Secretary of State for the Environment, Energy, and Climate Change has long championed many of these courses of action. Indeed Madame Speaker our Senatorial Manifesto, the manifesto to which over 140 Conservative Senators owe their mandates, championed the pledge for carbon neutrality by 2050. The attempted diversification of fuel in this country, moving away from petrol and diesel towards other methods of propulsion is another such measure that the Conservative Party have championed, however Madame Speaker unlike this Government who would tax the poor of this country into oblivion with hikes to Fuel Duty, Vehicle Excise Duty, and Insurance Premium Tax the Conservative Party will take positive action. In our manifestos across the country we pledged to mandate and subsidise the introduction of fast charging ports for electric cars in every petrol station in the nation. Furthermore Madame Speaker we pledged to invest in all forms of clean and renewable power, including wind power, including nuclear power, including tidal power, including river generation, Madame Speaker the Conservative Party will support the Government in furthering our manifesto commitments to see this country go carbon neutral by 2050 and I would like to thank the Prime Minister for meeting our targets, although next time I think my Right Honourable Friend would like an honourable mention credit. I also welcome the Government’s commitment to pursuing green policies in conjunction with economic stability because we all know that this Government’s record on economic stability has been found critically wanting as of late. In their first budget the Government managed to trigger a run on the pound, over the course of their tenure the Government have managed to cut growth and increase inflation, and of course infamously in their first Budget this Government increased the deficit. Madame Speaker a green initiative is all well and good but this Government have proved themselves incapable of delivering economic stability in their words and their actions. They have borrowed recklessly, money that will not pay itself back for over two decades just for their infrastructure binge or “capital spending burst” as they like to call it. This country spends as much on debt interest than we spend on the entirety of our schools budget, that is the legacy of this Government and we are only two years in. How will the Government balance a green future with economic competence when they have shown plainly that they have no economic competence even when they’re not trying to balance it with the lofty ambition of a greener future?
That being said Madame Speaker I am delighted to welcome two great Government u-turns, it is so refreshing to see that even from here on the Opposition benches the Conservative Party can exert such an influence on Government policy. The commitment to return to austerity, pay down our deficit and our debt, and see this country finally live within its means is a great triumph of the Conservative Party’s Long Term Economic Plan and I am glad to see that the Government which actually increased the deficit in year 1 of its tenure is not committed to seeing it reduced. That being said I’m not so sure that the voters who elected an “anti-austerity” Prime Minister all those PMs ago will be so thrilled. Equally Madame Speaker I am delighted to see the Government adopt the Conservative Party’s tax plan. We have long since held that the poorest in our country should pay no tax which is why we have advocated for the abolition of National Insurance and the reorganising of the tax code into a single unified Income Tax. Now I know that the Government’s last three budgets have been disasters, that’s why there have been three of them in two years after all, but it warms my heart to see a party finally see the light and realise what we have been saying all along, taxing an economy to generate wealth is like stepping into a bucket and trying to lift it by the handle. Last year the Conservative Party gave the average worker a tax cut of £800, or rather we would have if we had been in Government, the Government offered a measly £200 but promised to give out £1000, I hope that the Government will honour that pledge this year and give the people the £1000 tax cut that they were promised this time last year, although I won’t hold my breath. But for all the hot air being shouted to the heavens by this Government the voters know that if you want a country that pays its own way, an economy that is strong and stable, and a tax cut for you and your family the only choice is the Conservative Party. This Government offer you words, the Tories offer you and your family action, we proved it in office and we have proven it in opposition too.
Madame Speaker the technology portion of today’s speech has filled me with such hope and optimism that it will truly break my heart when this Government passes on such a golden opportunity. Like any business a tech startup requires lower taxes on corporations, Silicon Valley didn’t spring up overnight it required nurturing in a low tax environment to bring in the best entrepreneurs. Tax breaks were offered and are still offered across the United States. It is for this reason that as part of our tax plan presented this time last year that the Conservative Party pledged to almost half both rates of Corporation Tax and abolish the Capital Gains Tax, to promote business startups including in the tech sector. If this Government is serious about promoting technologically advanced startups then I am afraid that they will have to follow our lead and offer similar tax cuts to encourage entrepreneurs to take the dive. Investment in rural broadband, a solid Conservative Party proposal, and investment in R&D will only get you so far when we have one of the highest rates of Corporation Tax in the G8 and we charge entrepreneurs for the privilege of taking a chance on our economy. Strengthening our intellectual property law is another decent step but it is not enough when you consider that there are entire industries in nations like China committed to industrial espionage, it is time for this Government to get serious on China, the Conservative Party stand ready to support them should they choose to do so.
I welcome yet another u-turn Madame Speaker, this time by the Government on the issue of apprenticeships. As I said before last year the Government didn’t offer a single additional apprenticeship, combine this with the real terms cut to per-student funding at university and one could quite easily call last year an annus horribilis for post-16 and post-18 education. The Government seems committed to stealing solid Conservative Party manifesto commitments but I welcome their commitment to stealing and adapting our manifesto commitment to bring in 3mn new apprentices over 5yrs, however I do ask how they will reconcile this commitment with the litany of other spending commitments they made? Across the last two years the Conservatives have managed to outspend Labour when it comes to prisons, our NHS, university student funding, defence, all whilst cutting the deficit each and every year, a record that this Government cannot boast of itself. So whilst apprenticeships get additional funding should universities, whom I note did not merit a single mention in this speech, expect another real terms funding cut? Should Sure Start expect another real terms funding cut? Will the Government keep the tax on sickness that is the Prescription Charge? A charge the Conservative Party have pledged to phase out. Madame Speaker, I look forward to the upcoming budget, I have always loved to see the clowns at the circus perform outlandish feats of balancing and juggling prowess, not the clowns in Government shall attempt to do the same.
Now we move onto more great government spending commitments, this time in the realms of infrastructure. What we see here Madame Speaker is another great example of why the north swung violently towards the Conservative Party, why Scotland abandoned both Labour and the Liberal Democrats, and why Wales voted Conservative for the first time in our party’s history. This is a London-centric platform for a London-centric Government. The people of the north want many things, but what they do not need is the chance to get from Leeds to London half an hour more quickly. That is a problem that can be dealt with later. What we need is an infrastructure plan that helps people get from Liverpool to Newcastle, Leeds to Edinburgh, and across the width of the United Kingdom in ways that don’t just send you through London. High Speed 2 does not achieve any of that, what HS2 and its ever spiralling costs will deliver is a route from the Midlands to London and then if we’re lucky a route that will include the north this side of 2100. HS2 is not the policy that we need now, we need High Speed rail links that promote the Northern Powerhouse and the Midlands Engine, not simply ship them all off to London. The Conservative Party have, under my leadership, advocated a different model of high speed rail investment in this country beginning with HS3, a rail plan that links the north of England with the Lowlands of Scotland and can be easily expanded to encompass the Midlands and London by HS2 in the future. If we are committed to the Northern Powerhouse, another great Conservative Party policy, then we need to invest in the north’s economy, not faster ways to ship the north’s economy south. If we are committed to the northern powerhouse then we should be cutting Corporation Tax to enable investment and business startups to become more profitable in the north. The Northern Powerhouse and the Midlands Engine are not buzzwords to be thrown around by the Prime Minister, they are policies that need to be implemented to build up historically deprived regions, policies that I don’t see from the parties opposite but am seeing from the Conservative Party.
Madame Speaker, I am mindful of the time so I shall try and move through a few points at a time from here on out in so far as I am able. I note with interest the Government’s commitment to a living wage and suggest that they follow the approach followed by the Mayor of London, now Leader of the Senate Conservative Party, Boris Johnson in that the increases be carefully considered and staggered to allow businesses the chance to adapt over time rather than running the risk of yet more lost growth due to business collapse. Equally, provided that the policy is properly consulted upon an increase in the amount of financial advice the average man and woman can get access to will be beneficial, consultation will be required to ensure that people get access to the type of advice they need but on the whole it will probably be a step in the right direction.
But then we move onto another great Liberal Democrat u-turn, albeit one executed before today. The Labour Party have always been the party of the unaccountable union master, from the NUM’s successful toppling of the democratically elected government in the early 70s to the Winter of Discontent all the way through to the years of the late Mrs Thatcher the Government have always put the unions above the people. The current system works, the current system allows strike action where there is no other way to resolve it but it also protects union democracy and attempts to hold the unions’ leadership accountable to the members. If we are going to talk about trades’ unions reform then the conversation should begin in the area of giving union members more control over their unions not in overturning decades of union law which proved so successful even the Labour Party supported it eventually. We cannot return to the days of flying pickets, secondary strikes, and the lawlessness that surrounded the unions in the past. We cannot allow unaccountable union paymasters to have the power to grind the economy to a halt as they did in the Winter of Discontent. If the Prime Minister is committed to more stringent union democracy then I and my party will support her, if she is simply trying to give more freedoms to the people who sign her cheques then we will oppose her every step of the way. People say that union rights are worker’s rights, no no no Madame Speaker worker’s rights are worker’s rights, we need to protect the worker from the unscrupulous employer and the unaccountable union rep. We can do both, we must do both. A good example of this can be found in the cross-party efforts to protect those who use zero hours’ contracts. Protections for these workers was found in the manifestos of all three major parties at the last election and we maintain that it is our goal on this side of the House to stand up for workers. So I welcome moves to strengthen the rights and protections for people on zero hours contracts and working in the gig economy. As always we must tread carefully in the labour market for fear of costing people their jobs but the aim is an aim that I share.
Of course now we reach the spending portion of the speech and boy are there a lot of spending commitments here. One wonders just how many taxes the Government will have to raise because growth is falling precipitously, inflation is well above projections, and the Government wants to cut the deficit again. Madame Speaker protecting public services in real terms is a noble goal but something's gotta give. The Prime Minister and her Chancellor can try and play the public for fools but we all know that at the end of the day they will have to raise taxes or break one of their two commitments. So I ask the Prime Minister which pledge is the most insecure? Is it her pledge to cut taxes on working people, her pledge to cut the deficit, or her pledge to increase Government spending in real terms? Will we see more National Insurance increases? Will we see more prison places cut? Will we see another cut to national defence and fall even further behind the 2% target? The pledge to increase funding for the NHS also cuts to the heart of this issue. Back in 2014 it was the Conservative Party who pledged more money for hospitals and primary care than this Government, it was the Labour Party in Wales that cut the NHS where the Tories protected it in England. With all of these contradictory pledges something’s going to give way and at budget time it is the average worker, falsely promised a £1000 tax cut last year, who will have to pay.
Broadly speaking Madame Speaker the Government’s NHS plan is passable, the commitment to prevention is welcome and the creation of an NCS will hopefully be positive when it is fleshed out if a little confusing for the National Citizenship Service. But this Government persists with the sickness tax that is the Prescription Charge and they refuse to return to the social care table after their Health Secretary, now their Chancellor, resigned on Twitter and stormed out. This Government talks a good game on healthcare but so far they have been found critically lacking in all areas except the chequebook, and even there the unfunded promises that have been made year after year are simply piling up problems for the next generation of leaders to solve.
In education the response is unfortunate but predictable, this is a Government that has presided over a quiet massacre of grammar schools for obvious reasons, Labour have always preferred the idea of pulling the ladder up after themselves rather than simply providing more ladders. Following our education plan’s endorsement from leading think tanks I had hoped, albeit in vain, that the Government might listen to us and provide more specialised education to ensure that we get the best out of all of our students rather than those only suited to the Comprehensive System which is so comprehensively failing our students at the present time. Unfortunately whilst the Conservatives are proposing reform the Government are committing to throwing more money at the problem in the hope it goes away, kind of like their infrastructure policy really. But the taking of the Conservative Party’s policy on teaching life preparedness classes such as financial management and, one would hope, an expanded education system for those 15 and up who will soon be called upon to vote and the like, is a positive step that we on this side of the House are happy to support the Government in doing so.
We’ve heard it all before on housing Madame Speaker, the Government commit to making it easier to build houses but the most successful home building schemes in the country are promoted by the Conservatives as seen in London where Boris managed to deliver 100,000 homes in short order, far surpassing anything managed by the previous administration. Making it easier to rent is a welcome step but the aim should be to encourage home ownership, something made impossible by the Government’s refusal to re-examine Stamp Duty, consistent cuts to the Help to Buy Scheme, and refusal to deregulate land law to allow for more private construction. Government can do many things, sometimes it shouldn’t but it can do many things, what it cannot do is solve the housing crisis alone.
Moving onto the Constitution Madame Speaker I am glad that the Prime Minister has followed up on my suggestion, despite cries of protest and rage from her coalition partners, to meet in a cross-party manner to deliver meaningful Senate reform. It is important that we ensure that there is never a situation of legislative deadlock between the two Chambers which is why I recently unveiled some proposals to that effect. It is equally refreshing to see, fresh off of their humbling in the recent elections, that Labour are committed to working for Wales and Scotland again. Having spent a large period of time working to conspire with the SNP to block devolution simply because the bill was launched by the Conservative Party it is refreshing to see the Labour Party start to take their obligations to our Scottish and Welsh brethren more seriously. It is equally good to see that the Government values democracy in our country although I do foresee certain issues with their plan for more participation from citizens. Don’t get me wrong more voter participation is a great thing that we should cherish and encourage but there are security concerns that need to be seen to including allegations of abuse of the postal vote system and potential issues around voter identity that need to be addressed as a matter of urgency.
What I would like to know Madame Speaker is why anyone should take this Government seriously on the matter of defence and foreign policy? This is the Prime Minister who prorogued Parliament so she could retain the right to sell weapons to nations that harbour terrorists. This is the Government that voted to cut defence spending down below 2% of GDP and then forgot to reinvest it at the first time of asking. It is all very well that the Government are committed to our armed forces but they have not been seeing it where it matters Madame Speaker. Our country still exports weapons to countries that harbour terrorists, we still want to loosen sanctions on a country that supports Hamas and Hezbollah (not unlike some members of the Labour Party), and our spending on defence has been cut below 2% of GDP. This Government has a long road ahead of it if it wants to restore its credibility on national defence, I notice that Trident does not appear in the Throne Speech which is both a blessing and a curse I guess, it won’t be abolished but this Government clearly have no intention of keeping an up to date nuclear deterrent and renewing it. We on this side of the House value our armed forces and we will support them and the government too where they deserve our support, such as in their ongoing attacks on the Islamic State, but we will not support the cutting of our armed forces below 2% of GDP and we will not support the sale of weapons to harbourers of terrorists. Finally Madame Speaker on the issue of Europe I note that the Government still have not visited a single EU capital, still have not sent a Minister to Brussels, and still have not begun to deliver upon their promise to reform the European Union from within. When Ariadne Suchet pledged to deliver these reforms was she serious? Is the Prime Minister serious? When will she begin talks with the EU to deliver meaningful reforms?
Madame Speaker to summarise, there are areas of this speech where cross-party support and compromise can be achieved but there are many areas where it cannot. It is time for the Government to get honest with the people about what their spending agenda means. So far they have borrowed nearly £30bn more than the Tories would have, they have borrowed around £25bn on infrastructure projects, what have they got to show for it? Growth is no different to the worst case scenario, such as a global slowdown, inflation is well over it was projected, real wage rises are falling despite the low inflation, productivity growth is still stalling, investment is stalling. The Government have put us in 30yrs more debt for the privilege of having a higher rate of inflation at a time when real wage growth is below the level it was at when the Conservative Party left office. The Government need to get serious on the economy, they need to put away the magic money tree and start working on deficit reduction and economic growth.That is the record here Madame Speaker, higher debt, lower growth, higher prices, lower wages. Clearly last year was just a fluke.
Madame Speaker, I urge this House and all members present to reject this motion.
Conservative MP for North East Bedfordshire
Leader of the Opposition (2014-16)
Prime Minister (2014)
Parliamentary Experience: Novice (25)
Media Experience: Experienced (62)
Policy Experience: Novice (29)
In this Government's first Queen's Speech address, back in 2014, the Deputy Prime Minister offered some very poignant advice for my colleagues and I in the Conservative Party. As he finished his remarks, the Deputy Prime Minister said:
"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."
Two years have passed since the Deputy Prime Minister offered these remarks, but they couldn't possibly be any more relevant today. The only difference now? It is the very Government of which he is apart that is in desperate need to heed the advice he once gave my party.
Without knowing it, Madam Speaker, the Deputy Prime Minister was predicting the exact set of circumstances that now plague this Government and, as a result, the whole of The United Kingdom.
Britain has been "led" by three Prime Ministers in just one year, a revolving door of equally unqualified politicians desperately clinging to power.
For the past two years the Coalition Government has slogged forward totally without direction, stumbling from one issue to the next in the hopes that something will finally work out in their favor.
And now, in the summer of 2016, the Deputy Prime Minister's advice has morphed into an eerily accurate prophecy for the fate of his own Government: after three Prime Ministers, after an endless series of mistakes and crises, we have a Government that has tried and failed to get their affairs in order and now all of Britain is paying the price.
It is reckless, it is irresponsible, and the British people have and will continue to punish them for it.
We were told, Madam Speaker, that a new Prime Minister would bring a new politics to Britain. One void of the recklessness and irresponsibility that marred the previous two Ministries. Despite being in office for less than a year, the Prime Minister has succeeded in showing the country that change was never truly on the agenda.
We only have to look at the Prime Minister's record to see that she is incapable of learning from the mistakes of her predecessors. It was irresponsiblefor the Prime Minister to attempt to break the promise the Government made to convene a cross-party committee on refugee integration, an attempt that only failed when members of her own Cabinet had to remind her that this was a promise she had to fulfill. It was reckless for the Prime Minister to insist the Government be permitted to sell British arms to terrorist safe havens, knowing full well these arms could fall into the hands of terrorists. It is business as usual at Number 10, and that's to the detriment of the British people.
We must recognize this Queen’s Speech address for what it is: a desperate attempt by the Prime Minister to give her beleaguered Government a fresh start. Don’t let her. The Government can repackage their record in shiny new wrapping paper all they want, but the contents found inside will always be rotten. This is yet another in a long series of stunts engineered by a Prime Minister who is desperate to get the British people to focus on anything but her Government’s abysmal record.
Now, Madam Speaker, let’s push through all the political nonsense and fan fair and really understand what this Government has done to Britain in the time it’s been in power.
The impact of being led by a Government that is perpetually at risk of going off the rails is being felt across Britain. Wage growth is down, economic growth has slowed, and investment is stalling. These are not problems caused simply by a world recession, but rather the outcomes of the Government's failed economic policies. The Government invested billions of pounds of taxpayer money into investment schemes they promised would turbocharge the economy, and yet growth is down. The Government promised their tax hikes on businesses and transporting goods wouldn't hurt workers, yet wage is growth is down. The Government laughed at the Opposition when we said tax increases on banks would harm investment, yet investment is now down.
And believe me, I know those in the parties opposite are doing everything in their power to stop themselves from jumping up from their seats and point to those nations that have seen weaker growth than Britain. I’ll preempt that attempted counterargument with a simple question: what does it matter? Hearing about the poor state of the German manufacturing sector doesn’t change the fact that British workers saw virtually no increase in their wages. Being told that workers in France are worse off than those of us here in Britain doesn’t magically improve markets for British business owners struggling to sell their goods abroad.
I don’t want to hear the Government lecture Britons on how things are worse in the United States and Europe, I want to hear about their plan to get our economy working again.
The Government inherited an economy that was growing, with unemployment falling, and investment returning to Britain. They've squandered that inheritance, implementing policies that have halted economic expansion and caused anemic wage growth. Now that we are facing a real challenge in the form of an economic slowdown, anyone who believes this Government is prepared to weather the storm is kidding themselves.
Beyond the economy, the Government’s record isn’t much better. This is the Government that cut defense spending and failed to meet our commitment to honor NATO’s 2% spending pledge. The same Government that has waged a deliberate war against grammar schools, determined to ensure that only the wealthiest children have the freedom to go to school where they want and the ability to get an education that suits their needs. And this, Madam Speaker, is the same Government that rammed through constitutional reforms while breaking their promise to give the British people a vote on them.
Two years into the Government’s term and growth has stalled, wages growth has frozen, and our place in the world diminished. That is this Government’s record, no matter how hard they try to run from it, no matter which Labour politician happens to be holding the keys to 10 Downing. They have failed Britain, and they will continue to do so for however long they manage to stay in power.
The Government would be wise to heed the advice the Deputy Prime Minister once gave my party. Return to the Opposition benches, re-examine your priorities, and solve the problems plaguing your parties on your own time. The United Kingdom can't afford to be saddled with a Government that simply doesn't have it in them to lead us forward.
Member of Parliament for Bracknell
Shadow Foreign Secretary
Chairman of the Conservative Party
Chief Whip of the Conservative party
I hope you will forgive me if I do not display the enthusiasm of my previous colleagues in bursting out in sudden and unexpected shouting or forceful enunciation every other sentence. But please do not think that displays anything other than great enthusiasm for the program for government that Her Majesty presented to us in the Other Place.
Before I move on to those sections that I will be responsible for implementing, I would like to indulge the House's patience for a moment to remind us where we were the last time Her Majesty made such a speech. The last government had been booted out in disgrace, four years of economic stagnation, austerity pillaging our public services, and the worst scandal in decades to hit a sitting Prime Minister. And many of the members opposite (pointing extravagantly) were culpable, perhaps not in the scandalous elements, but absolutely in the austerity and the stagnation. They were the architects of a disastrous economic and social policy, and they drove it so far, far beyond the economic reason of sound money and prudent public finances, that their coalition partners very sensibly showed them the door.
And since then, Mr Speaker, we have gone from stagnation to the fastest growing economy in the developed world. "Not enough!" they cry! Well I imagine that sensible investment-based policy could deliver us the promised land on Earth and the Opposition would still find something to complain about - they are so wedded to their broken ideology that Britain can become the fastest growing economy under this Coalition and they still think their failed policies, tax cuts for the rich and spending cuts for everyone else, is the right solution.
And it is the department I am now responsible for that can show that so clearly. Nearly 20,000 police officers cut under the last government, more than 20,000 hired since then because we have made different choices. Crime is falling because of that, and people are safer. It's tangible, it matters, and it is the proof of the difference that investment rather than cuts can make to ordinary lives. Far more, I should say, than a cut for hedge funds and asset traders that some members of this house would rather spend billions on.
The plan that Her Majesty laid out for the Home Office is a clear and ambitious one, Mr Speaker, so it was a shame that in the tirade from the Leader of the Opposition we heard little from him about it. It takes the progress we have made and takes it to the next step: taking the extra investment we have made and reaping the dividends of that to crack down both on crime but the new blights in our society and world that we must tackle. I will shortly re-introduce the Counter-Terrorism Bill, carried over from the last session, which will do much to keep our country safe and keep British people from leaving this country to fight for Daesh.
My next priority will then be to publish proposals to reform our police services, restoring their morale shattered under successive Conservative Home Secretaries and making real and important improvements to the service. That will include the replacement of police and crime commissioners - a failed experiment that cost us £75 million to run an election only 15% of voters participated in - with a more effective alternative, as well as progress on building a police service that really represents the people it serves.
And alongside that, I will work with my right honourable friend the Deputy Prime Minister to ratify the Istanbul Convention, using it as a springboard to take decisive action to prevent violence against women and against domestic violence. And we will bring forward proposals to tackle the growing and very 21st Century form of modern slavery, bringing forward world-leading proposals as soon as practical. Britain is rightly proud of the pioneers that brought an end to the slave trade, and I want to commend the many campaigners that have brought this to the government's and this Parliament's attention as an issue - they are the ones who deserve the credit for the action we will take to bring an end to modern slavery in our lifetimes.
Mr Speaker, Her Majesty has set our a clear and decisive plan, and given me my marching orders to get on with the job. I urge the House to note with approval this Humble Address, and give this government a similar instruction to continue the job of governing in the national interest and in the interests of the millions of working people benefiting from a strong economy, safer streets, and better public services.
Her Majesty's Principal Secretary of State for the Home Department
Labour MP for Brent North (2005 - )
I will keep my remarks brief, which will undoubtedly please all members present.
I agree in principle with the Queen's Speech emphasis on environmental issues.
I would also say, however, that I much prefer technological innovation and incentives to mandates. It is widely accepted that the United Kingdom has the potential to provide zero emissions energy for all of our needs, but that such energy sources remain to be fully developed.
The best approach to converting to a green economy is to make such sources universally available, AND to commit to research and develop the next generation of technology, for example nuclear fusion power and to develop an infrastructure for electric and hydrogen fuelled vehicles.
Imposing mandates on every dwelling, every business, every driver, and so on, will however overly burden our economy and our people. I am convinced we must adopt a mentality of opportunity rather than a mentality of mandates and restrictions.
MP for Milton Keynes North (2014- )
Shadow Secretary of State for Energy,
Environment and Climate Change (2016)
I welcome the Leader of the Opposition back to the despatch box. I so infrequently see him here that it is a pleasure to once again see his smiling face. He is quite right to point out that I am the third Prime Minister in the past year, a unique distinction that he too held at one point in his career. The difference being, Madam Speaker, that I already won a confidence vote whereas he won none.
I will, of course, take a brief moment of time to address his claims of U-turns and policy changes. Madam Speaker, the Leader of the Opposition seems to forget that I am neither Ari Sutchet nor Calvin Ward and my record on U-turns is exactly none. The same, however, cannot be said for the Leader of the Opposition. No it can not. The Leader of the Opposition touts his party’s plans for three million new apprenticeships - yet in their last shadow budget they failed to fund a single new spot. It’s a long way to three million from zero, Madam Speaker. The Leader of the Opposition announced that he has promoted cutting corporation tax in half, yet the last time I checked a cut from 23% to 22% is not half, Madam Speaker - it’s not even a quarter, nor a fifth, nor a twentieth. The Leader of the Opposition announced his newfound support for investing in green energy, yet his Shadow Chancellor only a year ago criticised the Government for “picking winners” with its green energy investments. The Leader of the Opposition voted against a referendum on EU membership before becoming leader and then realised it was a fantastic way to win UKIP votes and suddenly supported it.
The Leader of the Opposition has been turning all over the place, so he might be a little dizzy: I will assure him that I am quite stationary in my positions.
I welcome the Opposition to endorsing green policies, Madam Speaker. Indeed, it is nice to see them on the same side as the government. However, I will provide the Leader of the Opposition with some history on the matter. First, on the claims that he somehow pioneered the call for a carbon-neutral Britain by 2050 - that is wrong. The basis of the government’s forthcoming climate legislation, as outlined in the Queen’s Speech, is in the 2014 Liberal Democrat manifesto, which announced the goal of a carbon neutral Britain a full two years before the Leader of the Opposition. Per the terms of the Coalition Agreement, this manifesto comprises a part of the government’s agenda. So I welcome the Leader of the Opposition to the fight - he’s about two years too late, but we welcome him nevertheless. Second, on the matter of investment in renewable energy, the Government invested several billion pounds in green energies of all stripes over the past two years - so his call for more investment, while welcome, is once again belated. Perhaps if him and his Shadow Cabinet spent less time criticising the government’s investments over the past years we would have reached this point sooner.
With regards to corporate tax rates, Madam Speaker, I believe the Leader of the Opposition would behoove himself to check his books again. Were he to, he would find that Britain has one of the lowest rates of corporate tax in the G8. It is certainly lower than the United States, at 35%. It is lower than France, at 31%. It is lower than Italy, at 24%. It is lower than Germany, when one considers that Germany has a federal tax rate of 15% plus a local tax rate of at least 13%. It is lower than Canada, when one considers that Canada also has a base federal rate of 15% plus a provincial rate of at least 11%. Our corporate tax rate is roughly on par with Japan at 23.2%. So the Leader of the Opposition can try and spin and spin to the best of his ability - he will find that the facts are on the government’s side. Britain has one of the lowest corporate tax rates in the G8. Facts, Madam Speaker, are facts.
The Leader of the Opposition’s claims on capital gains taxation, Madame Speaker, are interesting as well. Indeed, there is a great deal of debate surrounding the economic costs of capital gains taxation and the overwhelming consensus is that capital gains tax does not provide a significant deterrent to investment. Indeed, some even argue that the tax encourages longer term holding of investments, allowing greater accumulation of wealth, than would occur without the tax - thus the capital gains tax provides a measure of stability over volatility in capital markets. The reality is, Madam Speaker, that there are far better ways to encourage investment in businesses than eliminating capital gains taxation and the government will be presenting measures in due course.
On his claims of broadband access being a solid Conservative proposal, Madam Speaker, I will note that the Labour Party has been calling for action on broadband since at least 2010, when it was featured in our manifesto. This is one area where we may have to agree that all three parties have been calling for investment for quite some time.
Moving to skills, Madam Speaker, we come to apprenticeships. The government will be providing draft legislation shortly, however the difference between the government and the Conservative Party is that we intend to fulfill our commitment on apprenticeships. Let the Leader of the Opposition be reminded that despite his manifesto commitment of creating 3 million new apprenticeships, his party’s shadow budget for the past year did not fund a single new apprenticeship either. Call it another u-turn by the Leader of the Opposition that he’s now u-turned again in support of. This government will not repeat the mistakes of Calvin Ward, the same mistake that the Leader of the Opposition also committed, of not increasing apprenticeship numbers.
On the matter of transit, Madam Speaker, there will, of course, be a full debate over HS2 in the coming months. It is, of course, disappointing to see the Leader of the Opposition opposing this important transit link. It is especially disappointing given his record. During his brief premiership a government bill was passed on government time providing initial approvals for HS2 planning. In his Party’s first shadow budget, his party remained committed to HS2. Perhaps this is another u-turn by the Leader of the Opposition - I will leave that to the public to decide. I will note my surprise in hearing the Leader of the Opposition mention HS3. This is, I believe, the first time he has mentioned it. The government, too, supports HS3 and the Northern Powerhouse generally - indeed my Rt Hon Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced this government’s support for HS3 quite some time ago in the House. My Rt Hon Friend the Transport Secretary also stated our support for HS3 on a visit to Yorkshire. So we are glad to have the Leader of the Opposition onboard for another policy that Labour is happy to be working to implement. As to his statement regarding the Northern Powerhouse and Midlands Engine being Conservative policies - even a stopped clock is right twice a day.
The notion that the government wants to sell arms to nations that harbour terrorists is ludicrous, Madam Speaker, and I had hoped that the Leader of the Opposition would have been better than to repeat that line. The harsh reality of combating terrorism, Madam Speaker, is that there a numerous nations that have areas outside of direct government control. These regions that are outside direct government control are areas where terrorist groups can take hold - that is not harbouring, Madam Speaker. In order to remove terrorist groups from these areas and establish control, nations need arms. In some cases, British firms provide arms to these nations and their conduct is monitored such that, if there is a threat of these arms falling into the hands of terrorists, exports can be halted under existing legislation. If the Leader of the Opposition needs a lesson in understanding this principle, perhaps he could reach out to his deputy leader in the Senate and a former Conservative Foreign Secretary, Senator Hague, who has been more than supportive of the government’s work in this area.
On the matter of the defence budget, I have made clear, repeatedly, that I do not agree with the decision not to reinvest defence savings back into the defence budget made by the former Chancellor. In fact, I’m quite pleased that there is new leadership in Number 10, at the Exchequer, and in the Ministry of Defence when compared to that time. Moreover, I am quite keen to ensure that Britain meets its defence spending commitments moving forwards. That is why it was included in the Queen’s Speech. However, I will not that in the conduct that the lost funding at the Ministry of Defence is largely the result of efficiency savings, not cuts to key programs or operational activities.
Madam Speaker, the sad reality is that the Leader of the Opposition and his Shadow Cabinet have found it impossible to criticise this government’s programme, so they must resort to criticising Mr Ward, a man who was swiftly removed from office, and Ms Sutchet, and the actions of the past. Of course, the past is something the Leader of the Opposition may be wise to avoid, as it reveals a dangerous tradition of actual u-turns on his part. The simple fact of the matter is that, in the coming session of Parliament, the government will deliver on the commitments laid out by Her Majesty today, and the Leader of the Opposition will see that in the forthcoming Finance Act and in additional legislation.
These are commitments designed to face the challenges that Britain faces today, Madam Speaker, not relitigate the debates of the past three years of failed Conservative Prime Ministers and some equally disappointing Labour Prime Ministers. The world faces an economic slow down, for which the government is actively working to revitalise British productivity. And our productivity agenda is not just a matter of spending, as the Leader of the Opposition would have you believe, but in creating the best regulatory and competition environment for firms, especially small, innovative firms, to succeed in. Our working families agenda is not based on empty promises, but on tackling the real injustice of years of real wage decline under the last Tory administration. Our low pay legislation empowers government to truly enforce the minimum wage - something the Shadow Chancellor called “window dressing”. We’re getting serious about helping those truly in low pay. Our climate agenda, incorporated into the government agenda in 2014, is making the United Kingdom a leader in clean energy production and reduction of carbon emissions. Our forthcoming legislation will accelerate that shift. Madam Speaker, the government is tackling the critical issues facing our nation. I am the only leader in this chamber that can say that.
This is a positive programme for Britain, Madam Speaker. There is no way around that. This is a Queen’s Speech that establishes an affirmative programme to confront the greatest challenges of our time. It is a programme that will benefit the British people. I am proud to, once again, commend it to the House!
MP for Hammersmith
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As always, I must start my speech today by paying tribute, as others have done, to Her Majesty and to our brave armed forces. As always Her Majesty presented the speech excellently. As always, her public service and commitment to this country and union is something we should all aspire to as public servants. And our brave armed forces, who are currently fighting extremism abroad, should always stay in our minds when we sit in this place: they protect our voice and the votes of our constituents. They, and Her Majesty, symbolise everything admirable about this House and our democracy.
I must say Madame Speaker though, listening to the Tories in this debate I'd have thought that I'd be addressing your predecessor today in some funny time warp. They're not doing a single thing to address the substance of the Queen's Speech - and when they do you'll notice they'll offer warm words, Madame Speaker - but they're fighting the battles of the past. It seems they've never quite recovered from the loss in 2014, and it appears all too many have never quite recovered from the loss of policy battles half a century ago. Funny how after all these years the Tories have still been unable to find a single study supporting grammar schools as a tool for social mobility, Madame Speaker.
Madame Speaker, discussing Labour's mistakes is never going to go far because we here know that we've made mistakes and we're happy to learn from those mistakes. The Tories, however, are refusing to learn from theirs. They'd rather seek scandal than solution, rather debate politics than policy, and while we're turning a page and crafting an agenda for the future the Tories are fighting the battles of the past.
Madame Speaker, this government is addressing the bold issues of the day and is using the Queen's Speech to show for it - whether that be climate change, inequality, fighting terrorism abroad or social care and our ageing population. The Conservatives under the Leader of the Opposition can't be trusted to deal with any of them - he is too weak to show a viable way forwards and too obsessed with petty politics. If it doesn't poll well, he isn't interested.
This government will show leadership and show bold solutions. While the Leader of the Opposition runs the government that commissions HS2 and turns against it in opposition, while promoting HS3, this government actually talked about HS3 first. And the Leader of the Opposition can trust that we will be delivering it. The Leader of the Opposition can offer warm words to the North to shore up votes after voting through the austerity that devastated it, but this government will make sure words turn into action. The Leader of the Opposition can talk about delivering three million apprenticeships without promising a single penny towards apprentices. Again, Madame Speaker, we will be delivering.
And make no doubt about it Madame Speaker despite owning up to our mistakes we've already delivered. Record employment. Strong growth despite the economy slumping globally. Wages up after years of wages decreasing under Conservative government. The pound at its strongest for almost a decade. The deficit down. And public services invested in and austerity ended. That is not a record a government should be ashamed of, Madame Speaker.
The Shadow Foreign Secretary again expresses ignorance by asking why it matters that we are outperforming other countries, apparently not understanding the nature of the global economy and why it is significant we still show strong growth despite that. I have no time to lecture him on the importance of how slower growth, consumption and trade affects us here in the United Kingdom. But I do have time to answer what we're doing here at home. If he read the speech, he'd have an idea: giving workers a larger stake in businesses by promoting cooperatives, encouraging stable finances, putting infrastructure first across the whole country, prioritising the green transition that will see a stronger economy but a safer environment, promoting innovation, competition and skills and ensuring Britain is a leader in the green economy. This is the bold but fair vision the British people need, and only this Labour led government can deliver it.
Last, but definitely not least and in fact most crucially is the issue of our union, Madame Speaker. And this government is ensuring that each of the nations within our United Kingdom is able to thrive. We've made it clear we've wanted to turn a new page for a while, Madame Speaker. I'm glad the Leader of the Opposition has only just started to listen. A strong agenda for Scotland and Wales doesn't end with his weak bill and his bills, one of which the government took a strong voice in to ensure it was palatable. And it certainly doesn't end with the comprehensive devolution package this government will put forward for Scotland and Wales. This government has made it clear what is hopes to achieve: a strong Scotland and Wales free to pursue their destinies within a strong United Kingdom. I believe, more than anything, that that will be this government's legacy and we will fight tirelessly for it.
"[we] would rather die than leave the Labour Party." - Emily Thornberry.
Like others, I will start my remarks by thanking Her Majesty the Queen. We are grateful beyond words to her service, her dedication and the principled and elegant way with which she leads our nation. As always, her delivery of the speech was impeccable.
I also want to join the prime minister, and others throughout the house, in thanking the brave men and women in the British Armed Forces. The world is one of constantly evolving threats and security risks, and they perform us and the world as a whole an invaluable service by protecting our values and standing up for security and stability in this tumultuous world. We thank them, as we should every day, for their commitment and sacrifice.
And of course, welcome to the newly elected Senators. Many of them are erstwhile peers and MPs, of course, but others are fresh faces and new voices. I am proud to have been in a party that, far before other parties joined the cause, has long championed the idea of an elected upper chamber. To see it come to fruition after years of work is immensely gratifying, I think, for all those activists and campaigners who have put years of work into this project.
To borrow a line from the leader of the opposition, “this is where the pleasantries must be drawn to their conclusion”. The Conservative Party remembers that I told them, way back then, to reconsider what kind of party they want to be.
Well, under the Leader of the Opposition’s leadership, we know full well what path they have chosen.
They have chosen a path of gross incompetence, while not being honest about the positions and actions of the government. We all know their myriad of flip-flops - on core constitutional questions, on core questions of Britain’s place in the world, on our industrial and transportation strategies, on essential matters of public services and economic policy. We know, for example, that the rhetoric of the Shadow Foreign Secretary, regarding terrorist safe havens, is deeply irresponsible. We know that his policy would alienate key and critical partners in the war on terror and leave us unable to meaningfully support those nations that are on the front line in fighting terrorism - it is, essentially, a policy that says that we can’t provide arms to any nation that is actually at the front line of fighting groups such as Daesh. I do not think we have ever seen a Shadow Secretary, of any department, so manifestly unsuited for the job that he is bidding for - but he stays in his job regardless. And we also know that the opposition frontbench has - on issues such as pensions, taxation and investment - gotten key facts repeatedly wrong.
They have chosen a path of divisiveness. They label their opponents as “bleaters”, as incapable of reasonable discourse, of wanting to sell arms to terrorists, of not being loyal to the country, of being extremists, of being every manner of villain. These words are powerful words - that have tangible consequences when used as freely and irresponsibly as the opposition has - in heightening tensions, eroding trust, and indeed stripping these words of their power. The Boy who Cried Wolf is a useful precautionary tale that the party opposite should heed.
They have chosen a path that goes back on many of the grander and more nobler traditions of their party - eschewing One Nation conservatism for a Tea Party-style right-wing social engineering, eschewing pragmatic solutions on issues as diverse as transport and overseas development for a ideologically-motivated programme of government that doesn’t even bear much of a resemblance to their threadbare 2014 manifesto, using nationalism - whether it be their own nationalism in the form of Euroscepticism or the nationalism of others, such as in Scotland, for political point-scoring. They eschew real accountability for point-scoring, for kicking up inane frenzies about the clerical errors that every government makes, for abusing questions to ministers in a way none of their predecessors ever did. The disrespect they show to the institutions of government is true.
We have still never seen a response to a simple question of political ethics: why is it, that when the Leader of the Opposition did exactly the same thing as the Prime Minister did, it was alright for him but not for her? I wasn’t going to revive this point - but the Opposition seems to think it pertinent to bring it up, so I will remind those watching at home and in the galleries of the almost laughably blatant double standards favoured by the party opposite.
I hope their new leader chooses a new path. But I am not, I confess, hopeful.
Let us turn to a more positive note. The positive programme laid out in this speech. This government’s investment strategy is working. That unemployment is falling and that our economy is still growing despite unfavourable international climates is welcome news. And the investments in infrastructure, housing, research and business growth that this government has made will only pay off even more so in the future.
There is also the environmental progress this government is making. If I may respond to the gentleman from Milton Keynes North, he is right to talk about the need for innovation and investment when it comes to tackling green challenges. We have adopted the mentality, more than any preceding government, of viewing the need to greenify our economy as an opportunity - that has been at the core of our thinking on this subject. We have integrated industrial strategy and environmental policy in an unprecedented way. But while his party has been voting against such measures and decrying them as “picking winners” - that they still decry, even to this day - this government has been hard at work making exactly the investments that he calls for.
For example, our Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund has made considerable investments in kickstarting those areas of innovation and entrepreneurship where there is a real need to build on existing British enterprise. We have increased the capital resources available to the Green Investment Bank, creating more green jobs and more green energy. We have invested, directly, in the electric vehicle industry, including in supporting electric vehicle charging point infrastructure.
One area where we differ is that we in the government understand that regulations and green taxes also play a role in helping decarbonise our economy - just as much as investments do. They maintain our incredibly high standards and provide further incentives for companies to innovate and internalise the environmental costs of their decisions. The Five Green Laws - on transport, climate change, buildings, nature and resource efficiency - will help formalise this government’s ethos on these critical issues.
The 2% commitment to defence spending is, of course, welcome. Now, it is worth pointing out that this government did not make any substantive cuts to actual front-line programmes - what the last budget did, and this was a mistake, was reuse some of the efficiency savings from the MoD into deficit reduction rather than reinvestment. We will, of course, be charting out a new course, with an ambitious strategy to adapt our military to the new security landscape of our times.
The commitment to overseas development is greatly reassuring - this increases our capacity to promote human rights, allows us to invest in more harmonious and sustainable long-term solutions to current refugee crises, and empowers us to continue our work in promoting free and fair trade, environmental preservation and economic development in all corners of the world.
The commitments in this speech on rights and equalities are greatly encouraging. Ratifying the Istanbul Convention on Preventing and Combating All Forms of Violence Against Women and Domestic Violence is an especially important priority.
Finally, this is a government that has substantially increased investment in our schools, hospitals, police services and social care systems. That is set to continue. That is superb news.
Graham Adiputera (Lib Dem - Sutton and Cheam)
Deputy Prime Minister
Liberal Democrat Leader
Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Climate Change
Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Technology
Parliamentary - 36
Media - 53
Policy - 48
Division, clear the lobbies!
Rick the Admin - The Resident Psephologist
Admin for Cabinet, PM's Office, DPM's Office, Defence, Energy, Regions, Environment, Transport, Communities, Elections, and Advisor to Labour and the Lib Dems
MP for Hammersmith
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Graham Adiputera (Lib Dem - Sutton and Cheam)
Deputy Prime Minister
Liberal Democrat Leader
Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Climate Change
Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Technology
Parliamentary - 36
Media - 53
Policy - 48
Sir Geoffrey Birch | Conservative Party
MP for Bexhill & Battle (2001-present)
Former MP for Northampton South (1983-1997)
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Formerly: Deborah Carpenter, Conservative, MP for Hertford & Stortford, Former Chancellor of the Exchequer
Sylviane Jaubert MP
MP for Cynon Valley
Formerly as The Rt Hon Ariadne "Ari" Suchet MP
Former Prime Minister and Leader of the Labour Party
"TrashPotato Today at 2:11 AM
my friend offered me a bottle of vodka and i sucked the vodka out the bottle like a baby sucking a titty"