The Queen’s Speech, which took place last Wednesday, went as we predicted with proposals announced on fiscal responsibility, financial services, constitutional reform, education and energy amongst others. The Speech was short and to the point with only 13 bills and 2 draft bills announced and no announcements on Health (one of the largest Government departments), immigration or MPs’ expenses.
The Speech was touted as being the most political for a decade, as was to be expected with a General Election taking place next year and once the Queen had left Parliament Gordon Brown and David Cameron drew the battle lines. The Prime Minster defended the speech saying that it showed that the Government was ’standing up for Britain’ and criticised the Conservatives over their inheritance tax policy, whilst the Leader of the Opposition responded by calling the Speech ‘half-baked’ and a ‘waste of the country’s time’. These soundbites, like the contents of the Speech itself, were not particularly surprising.
There is now a period of reflection in the House of Commons as the Speech will be debated for no fewer than 6 days. With that in mind we gathered together leading parliamentarians to see what they made of the speech:
Dr Des Turner MP
Labour Member of Parliament for Brighton Kemptown
“Given that the Parliamentary Session will be shortened by the General Election this was a very ambitious Queen’s Speech, containing very real and useful legislation.
I totally disagree with those who think it is simply part of the Election manifesto - such claims are very wide of the mark.
These measures are very important and legislation like the care for the elderly Bill are part of a long overdue revolution for people who are in the latter part of their lives.”
Chloe Smith MP
Conservative Member of Parliament for Norwich North
“For me the Queen’s Speech was a mixed bag. For the most part it was all about the Labour Party serving itself rather than the country. It was a case of politics not Government.
There were a number of measures that simply served to create the next Labour election manifesto and you have to ask yourself if these measures are so important then why have they taken 12 years to be implemented? Furthermore, a number of measures were policies that the Government should be getting on with anyway rather than legislating on.
Having said that there was one measure that my constituents might welcome, which was the announcement on flood defences.”
Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, Spokesperson for the Home Office
“The Queen’s Speech has rightly been criticised for pretending that so many Bills can be passed in the few days of Parliamentary sittings before the 2010 general election. When there is no chance of getting most of them into law it is farcical.
I hoped there would be more realism but this is obviously just for the shop window. Nobody would guess that six months from now a new government will have to make huge spending cuts.
The absence of any mention of a referendum on electoral reform, widely supported in all three parties, is a serious disappointment.”