The Economy and Work

Part of Debate on the Address – in the House of Commons at 2:30 pm on 26th May 2016.

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Photo of Stephen Hepburn Stephen Hepburn Labour, Jarrow 2:30 pm, 26th May 2016

This Queen’s Speech did nothing for the people I represent in my constituency. The Government should not have wasted taxpayers’ money on all the pomp and ceremony, as they could have sent a 140-character tweet telling people what was in it. The Prime Minister’s aim of course was to stop the unrest in the Tory party, which is pulling itself apart over the referendum. He did not even achieve that, because only days after the Queen’s Speech we had rebel Tory MPs joining us in opposing the undemocratic, corporatist Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership. If the Prime Minister gets a message from that, it should be to dump TTIP in its entirety and defend our NHS.

As I alluded to earlier, there is more detail on the back of a bus ticket than there was on that waste of vellum that was handed to the Queen. What did the Government say? They said we are going to create a spaceport—what a laugh! We are still waiting for a decision on another runway in London, yet they are talking about sending tourists to the moon in a rocket! That is absolutely daft. They are talking about privatising the Land Registry. That destructive move is even opposed by the Competition and Markets Authority. Only this Tory Government and only this Chancellor would contemplate gifting a valuable public service—a body responsible for registering the ownership of residential and commercial property—to a bunch of spivs and speculators. That proposal is wrong and the Government should withdraw it. Their move to end a fair rating system will cheat the people in poorer areas while enhancing and enriching the people in areas such as Kensington and Mayfair. It echoes the usual Tory motto: “To them that have most, give more. Give the lower paid and the middle earners nothing.”

This Queen’s Speech, taken together with the recent Budget, fell apart quicker than a badly assembled chest of drawers, and it just shows how this Government are disintegrating in front of us. Britain and areas like mine were crying out for a Queen’s Speech that values people, and champions decency and fairness. We needed the creation of good jobs with better incomes. We needed to build better homes which people can afford. We needed raised standards in schools, not academies. We needed to resuscitate the NHS, which is ailing from Tory neglect. The country deserved a Queen’s Speech that fixes the problems and gives us solutions. What we got was a second-rate mishmash intended to win a referendum. On behalf of the Jarrow constituency and the people I represent, I will be proud to walk through and vote against this Queen’s Speech.