Labour demands “action, not more rhetoric” ahead of Queen’s Speech

Elliot Chappell
© UK Parliament / Jessica Taylor

Labour has demanded “action, not more rhetoric” from the government ahead of the Queen’s Speech on Tuesday, calling for ministers to come forward with a “clear plan to get Britain working for working people”.

In the speech, written by ministers, the monarch will set out what laws the government plans to bring to parliament in the coming year, what it wants to put out for further consultation and which policies it will drop.

Keir Starmer urged the government to “seize this moment to create a brighter future”, pointing to data showing that the proportion of jobs in high-tech industries is nearly seven times higher in some areas of the country than others.

He has called on Boris Johnson to focus on a rescue plan for the NHS, bring forward proposals for the social care system, take action on rising levels of crime and make a plan to reduce inequality between different regions of the country.

“The Queen’s Speech must set out transformative and credible change, with a clear plan to get Britain working,” he said. “A Queens Speech that ensures good jobs, good pay and good prospects in and spreading opportunity across the country. We must seize this moment to create a brighter future for the whole country.

“We must also see detail on long-promised plans to fix the broken social care system, reduce the shocking levels of violent crime and narrow the gap between different parts of the country. For 11 years we have had lots of rhetoric and the endless promise of jam tomorrow: that must now be turned to action.

“The Conservatives have so far tried to hide their lack of a long-term plan by making people and places scrap over funding pots. This piecemeal approach won’t deliver the fundamental change our country needs. Instead, we must today see meat on the bones of a proper, ambitious plan to deliver the change people across the country deserve.”

Reports have suggested that the Queen’s Speech will contain at least 25 bills, including some carried over from the last parliamentary session such as the environment bill and the police, crime, sentencing and courts bill.

The speech is expected to include a national security bill, making it easier to crack down on foreign agents, and the Prime Minister is expected to axe the Fixed Term Parliament Act, restoring his power to determine when an election takes place.

Other legislation expected is a new law banning prosecution of Northern Ireland veterans, a ‘sovereign borders bill’ making changes to the asylum system in the UK and an ‘elections integrity bill’ requiring proof of identification to vote.

Shadow minister Cat Smith described the bill on elections as one that could “disenfranchise millions”. The Electoral Commission has highlighted that in the 2019 general election there were only 28 allegations of fraud and one conviction.

The employment bill, which Boris Johnson promised in his 2019 Conservative general election manifesto, could be included in the address. Unions and the Labour Party have called for this to include a ban on ‘fire and rehire’ tactics.

It is hoped that social care will feature. The health service and social care white paper unveiled by Health Secretary Matt Hancock earlier this year did not address social care, but committed to bringing forward reforms “this year”.

Johnson has on several occasions promised to reform social care since becoming Prime Minister. In his first speech after taking the role in July 2019, he told the public that he would “fix the crisis in social care once and for all”.

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