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Picture the scene if you can: Buckingham Palace. Her Majesty is seated, getting on with monarchical business. A staff member knocks and enters with an envelope from Downing Street, containing the proposed text of the Queen’s Speech, which is swiftly opened.
HM takes out a single piece of paper, scans it, turns it over (the back is blank). She speaks:
“Is this it?”
Yup. We could well be about to hear the shortest Queen’s Speech in the history of broadcasting. The evening news bulletins will probably be able to broadcast it in its entirety, instead of the usual excerpts.
Only 11 new bills are to go before Parliament. They involve:
- Plans to change the pension system (again), split among two bills – look out, pensioners!
- A bill to make it easier for companies to frack for gas under private property – look out, homeowners!
- Measures to implement a promise to provide up to £2,000 worth of free childcare – probably not enough.
- A proposed right for voters to recall their MP – to be judged by other MPs if the rumours are correct. Corruption?
- The outlawing of “modern slavery” – except, one presumes, that enshrined in law by this government’s own Mandatory Work Activity schemes.
- Powers to tackle lawyers and other professionals who help criminal gangs – clearly, in this world of government-aided tax evasion (for example), they are helping the wrong criminal gangs.
- Measures to tackle the abuse of zero-hours contracts – one can’t help feeling that the Tories were shamed into this one by bad publicity.
- Legal protection for people carrying out “good deeds” such as volunteering or planning local events, who become involved in liability claims. Can you spot the opportunities for corruption in this?
- The curb on public sector employees claiming huge redundancy payments and then taking new jobs in the same sector, that was mentioned on this blog recently.
- Help for pub landlords.
- And a plan to charge 5p for plastic bags in England – copying a successful scheme in Wales. Doesn’t this government mock Wales as a failure? Why, then, is it copying Wales?
Six more bills have been carried over from the last Parliamentary session – which wasn’t exactly brimming with work either.
Considering the scale of the problems facing the UK – many of which have arisen because of Coalition government policies – it is a hopelessly inadequate programme of government.
David Cameron and Nick (who?) Clegg have claimed it shows the government is still capable of “taking bold steps”. Baby steps, more like!
Angela Eagle, Labour’s shadow leader of the House of Commons, responded: “Just because the government announced it’s a bold programme, that does not mean actually that it is.”
What do you think? Do you think the bills listed above with do anything to solve Britain’s biggest problems?
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