Following the excitement of the last week’s local elections, Parliament returned on Tuesday for the Queen’s Speech – the Government’s legislative agenda for the next parliamentary term.
Prince Charles, standing in for the Queen who was forced to pull out due to mobility problems, announced plans for 38 pieces of legislation including a Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill, a Brexit Freedoms Bill, a Schools Bill, an Energy Security Bill, the long-promised Online Safety Bill and a Public Order Bill.
However, despite promises to get Britain “back on track” after the Covid pandemic, the Queen’s Speech contained no new support for households struggling with the cost of living.
The cost of living crisis is the main, immediate challenge facing this country. There’s no sign of it abating and so many families are struggling financially.
The Bank of England recently issued a prediction that inflation will surpass 10% later this year.
When the UK is already experiencing the worst deterioration in living standards for decades, many will dread to think what a continued surge in prices will mean for them and their families.
A wasted decade of low growth under the Conservatives has left our economy weakened and the Tories have become the party of high taxes and low pay.
We needed a Queen’s Speech that would tackle the cost of living crisis, with an emergency budget including a windfall tax to get money off people’s bills.
We needed a real plan for growth to get our economy firing on all cylinders, with a Climate Investment Pledge and a commitment to buy, make and sell more in Britain.
Instead, a failure to tackle the cost of living crisis and low growth in the Queen’s Speech marks a major economic failure by the Conservatives.
The Queen’s Speech could have shown a Government in touch with working people. It could have shown a Government taking action to make sure there are no more reports of millions of people struggling to make ends meet.
Unscrupulous bosses will cheer the demise of the promised Employment Bill, but its absence will dismay workers in perilous jobs. For many, fire and rehire on less pay has become a grim reality. No new cash for a much-needed inflating-busting pay rise means the NHS and other essential services will go on losing experienced staff. Waiting lists for treatment will also get longer and services will worsen for everyone.
Earlier this week I tabled an amendment to the Queen’s Speech calling for the Government to do more to solve the housing crisis, including bringing forward a Bill that will ensure a new generation of good quality social homes, improve private renting conditions and bolster regulation in the social rented sector.
I also tabled an amendment on the Government’s watered-down ban on conversion therapy and called on the inclusion of transgender people who it currently doesn’t include.
We needed legislation to boost workers’ rights and proper plans for social care and ‘levelling-up’.
Instead, we have seen tax rise after tax rise on working people.
What is even worse is that families are paying higher energy bills now because of this Government’s failure to properly regulate the energy market over the past decade, develop renewables and nuclear power, and deliver energy efficiency programmes which could have cut bills.
The Government could have introduced much greater support for working families and pensioners facing rising bills, funded by a windfall tax on oil and gas companies making near-record profits during this crisis. But they have not.
This is a government that is completely out of touch. These planned laws will make little difference to the millions who are facing soaring living costs.
It is wholly unacceptable that we have a Government who haven’t grasped the seriousness of this crisis. Families are being forced into debt and struggling to make ends meet with many working people left with no choice but to turn to a food bank.
Here we have a Government that has run out of ideas, led by a Prime Minister entirely out of touch. It doesn’t have to be this way. It won’t always be this way. A Labour Government would tackle the cost-of-living crisis head-on and get Britain growing again after 12 years of failure.