On Monday 14 October, the Queen laid out the Government's proposals for the Parliamentary session in the Queen's Speech. These legislative plans laid out in the speech detailed 26 new and returning bills. These ranged from proposals to make photographic ID necessary to vote, a roll-out of faster Broadband coverage and tougher sentencing for criminals. There were also several plans for post-Brexit bills, which promised to end freedom of movement, introduce a points-based immigration system and replace EU market regulations.
Debate on the Address: First day of debate on the Queen's Speech
Addressing the proposals outlined in the Queen's Speech, the Leader of the Opposition, Jeremy Corbyn:
- criticised the lack of provisions to address growing low pay, insecure employment, poverty and homelessness in the UK
- called on the Government to adopt reforms of the welfare system proposed by the Labour Party, as well as asking them to end the privatisation of the NHS and increase funding for schools
- responded to the Government's proposal to implement longer prison sentences for some criminals, stating that this can already be done by judges, and emphasised the severe overcrowding in UK prisons
- voiced concerns that a law necessitating ID to vote would weaken the democratic right to vote
- spoke about the dangers of a no-deal Brexit, stressing the importance of EU citizens settled in the UK, and reaffirmed his desire for a people's vote
- said the Government's proposals did not focus enough on the climate emergency or humanitarian crises across the globe.
The Leader of the Opposition said:
"The legislative programme, Mr Speaker, is a propaganda exercise that the Government cannot disguise. This Government has failed on Brexit for over three years; they’re barely beginning to undo the damage of a decade of cuts to our public services. It does nothing for people struggling to make ends meet, does nothing to make our world a safer place or tackle the climate emergency. The Prime Minister promised that this Queen’s Speech would dazzle us, on closer inspection, Mr Speaker, it is nothing more than fool’s gold."
Responding on behalf of the Government, the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson:
- stated again that Britain must leave the European Union before 31 October, and stressed that the rights of EU nationals will be enshrined in primary legislation
- reaffirmed the Government's commitment to the points-based system of entry, and said that the Opposition wanted no controls on immigration
- vowed to invest £2.2 million in the armed forces and ship building
- said that the Government is consulting on legislation to protect former members of the armed forces from being prosecuted over historical events when no new evidence has been produced
- stated that a police covenant would be put into law, and reaffirmed his support for stop and search measures
- renewed the Government's commitment to Ofsted
- stressed his belief that the UK will become carbon-neutral by 2050 as a result of solutions provided by a flourishing free-market economy.
The Prime Minister stated:
"This Government exists to serve the British people, and this Queen’s Speech delivers on their priorities and by strengthening our NHS with the biggest programme of hospital building for a generation, by putting 20,000 more police on the streets, by unlocking the potential of the whole country with new infrastrucutre, better education and high technology […] we aim to create a new age of opportunity for the whole country. And as we prepare to get Brexit done by 31 October, we are setting out now our vision of an open, global, free-trading United Kingdom: a high-wage, low-tax economy."
Image: UK Parliament
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