The Economy and Work

Part of Debate on the Address – in the House of Commons at 1:49 pm on 26th May 2016.

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Photo of Stewart Hosie Stewart Hosie SNP Deputy Leader, Shadow SNP Westminster Group Leader (Economy), Deputy Leader, Scottish National Party 1:49 pm, 26th May 2016

It is a pleasure to take part in this debate on the Gracious Speech. I am conscious of the time, so I shall be as brief as I can. Before I talk about the measures contained within this Queen’s Speech, it might be worth reflecting on what is missing from it, particularly in economic terms: an alternative to Tory austerity; real action on productivity, innovation, trade and exports; and addressing the crying need for genuine inclusive growth so that people do not fall further behind and the UK does not forgo GDP growth as it has in the past over decades as a result of rising inequality. All that is absent. As to the most important steps that should have been included in this programme for government, the Government could and should have sought to reverse the damaging impact of austerity, to reverse inequality and to stop cuts to our vital public services, which actually promote a positive economic impact. Again, all those things are missing.

It is almost as if this Tory Government are so consumed with bitter in-fighting over Europe and the EU referendum that they have pared back this legislative programme to the bare minimum required to give even the vaguest impression of a Government who are still functioning—not matter how rotten and divided they are over Europe.

The Gracious Speech could have announced an emergency summer Budget, putting an end to all the austerity that has strangled economic growth and seen the Chancellor fail to meet every single target across his key economic indicators: debt, deficit, borrowing, trade and exports. We could have had an economic plan comprising a series of economic measures to usher in an inclusive, prosperous economy through investment in infrastructure and key public services. We could have had signalled flagged-up provision for a modest increase in public expenditure. As we argued at the election, 0.5% could release something in the order of £150 billion for investment in infrastructure and our public services—spending to grow the economy, while ensuring that public sector debt and deficit continue to fall over the Parliament. That would have been sustainable and fiscally responsible.