MPs have their say on the Queen's Speech
This week's Queen's Speech set out the Government's agenda for the coming session of Parliament, featuring 26 bills on education, defence, health, technology, transport and crime – as well as Brexit.
We asked two Black Country MPs – the Labour Party's Emma Reynolds and Conservative Mike Wood – for their take on the speech.
Here's what they said:
Emma Reynolds, the Labour MP for Wolverhampton North East, said the Queen's Speech lacked the meaningful changes that would make a difference for people in the Black Country.
This week the Parliamentary agenda was reset with a new Queen’s Speech, meaning the government set out a new list of its priorities over the next year. I was looking for government action in three key areas; unemployment, crime and policing, and education.
Our region has seen our unemployment rate stubbornly stuck at more than double the national average since January 2015.
While the government boasts about national employment, this is not seen in Wolverhampton. In fact, my constituency saw a rise of almost 20 per cent in the last twelve months.
For too long our unemployment has been too high, and I’ve been calling for the Prime Minister to make tackling unemployment and delivering decent-paying jobs his number one priority, yet nothing on this was announced in the Queen’s Speech.
People across Wolverhampton deserve to know what this government is going to do to stop unemployment rising, and bring these numbers down.
On policing, our region has seen crime rise by ten per cent in the last year, yet police officer numbers are down by over 2,000 since 2010.
These cuts are having an effect, and have led our Chief Constable Dave Thompson to say he is “struggling to deliver a service to the public” and “criminals know how stretched we are.”
Last week it was announced that the West Midlands would receive 366 new officers by 2021. New officers are of course welcome, however they do not make up for the 2,131 lost since 2010.
The West Midlands needs a real-terms funding boost so new officers can be hired, make our streets safer, and curb the ever-increasing levels of crime our region and our city is facing.
The Queen’s Speech announced that new sentencing laws would be put in place, along with rehabilitation for prisoners, and greater support for victims of crime.
This is of course welcome, along with extra laws and protections around domestic abuse, but our communities want the reassurance of more police officers – not to be over 1,700 short of where we were ten years ago.
Finally, on education, 87 of the 88 schools in Wolverhampton have suffered cuts to per-pupil funding between 2015 and 2019.
Yet the Prime Minister’s flagship £7.1bn schools funding announcement won’t even put back the money they have lost through cuts.
From visiting schools in my constituency, I have seen that spending cuts have left schools struggling to cope with fewer teachers and teaching assistants, which is having a direct impact on the education of children.
In the Queen’s Speech, one line was given to education – that “all young people will have access to an excellent education” – a welcome commitment, but not backed up by any government action over the last decade.
This Queen’s Speech was an opportunity for the government to make meaningful changes which would have a huge impact on Wolverhampton and the wider West Midlands.
This opportunity was not taken. This Queen’s Speech was sorely lacking in the three key areas which would really benefit Wolverhampton, and local people deserve better.
Mike Wood, the Conservative MP for Dudley South, reckons the Government's plans will help the country blossom after the next general election.
What a welcome contrast this Queen’s Speech is in comparison to the myriad of muddle given by Jeremy Corbyn in his Northamptonshire speech last week.
The Leader of the Opposition took this opportunity to outline his plans to splurge £1.4 trillion of taxpayers’ money (£21,200 for every man, woman and child in this country) on ideologically-driven policies, including an outdated unaffordable mass-nationalisation programme, that would destroy our economy and put people’s jobs and mortgages at risk.
The Queen’s Speech sets out how this Government will address the priorities that people raise with me every week in Dudley South: delivering Brexit, tackling crime and improving health and social care.
Together with record new investment in the NHS, schools and policing announced by the Chancellor last month, these will make a big difference to the services that matter most to us in the West Midlands.
We have to deliver on Brexit and that was at the heart of the Queen’s Speech.
Boris Johnson is committed to respecting the decision taken by the British people that we should leave the EU and enable the UK to regain its sovereignty.
Politicians cannot choose which public votes they respect, and which they ignore.
The Queen announced that we will have laws to ratify a withdrawal agreement if a good deal can be reached with the EU, to end free movement and to take back control over our borders, our farming, our fisheries and our trade.
New laws on health and social care will make sure that the £33.9bn extra being given to the NHS will mean patients have faster and better access to the latest medicines and that people can get the quality mental health support they need, while the action announced to fix the crisis in adult social care cannot come too soon.
Keeping people safe is one of the most important responsibilities of government and this Queen’s Speech delivers.
A total of 20,000 new police officers are being recruited over the next three years – on top of police forces’ existing plans – and there are new laws to crack down on serious violence and domestic abuse, to stop criminals being released halfway through their sentences, to crack down on foreign criminals and to make sure that police officers have the protections that they need and deserve, recognising their bravery, commitment and sacrifice serving the public.
Tougher sentences will help keep our communities safe, and 10,000 extra prison places will make sure criminals are not released simply to make room.
These are just a couple of the Government’s plans to ensure law and order is restored to our communities across the country.
The past nine years have seen tough choices having to be made to get the economy back under control.
The last Labour Government was spending £160billion more a year than it was raising.
Because of this, the amount of interest that government has to pay on its debts each year is now £51bn – about the same amount that central government spends on police and schools.
Getting that deficit under control and building an economy that is growing with more people in work than ever before means that we can spend more on the things that matter most – like an extra £33.9billion for the NHS, £7bn more for schools, nurseries and colleges, and 20,000 more police officers. We cannot afford to throw this progress away.
It looks like we will have an election soon. There aren’t currently enough Conservative MPs for the Government to be confident of passing much of this greatly-needed programme through Parliament.
If the Opposition wish to vote these measures down then the election will be a clear choice between the positive vision and effective reforms in the Queen’s Speech or Jeremy Corbyn’s plans to bankrupt Britain that he set out last week.
I look forward to voters in Dudley South and across the country being given the chance to make that choice.