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Public Services

Part of Debate on the Address – in the House of Commons at 5:51 pm on 16th October 2019.

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Photo of Mike Amesbury Mike Amesbury Shadow Minister (Work and Pensions) (Employment) 5:51 pm, 16th October 2019

It is a pleasure to follow the powerful speech from my hon. Friend Ruth George.

A considerable number of media and political commentators have waxed lyrical about the nature and content of the Queen’s Speech—an opportunity for the Prime Minister to put forward a bold and ambitious programme for Britain, and to unite our brilliant country and focus on the bread-and-butter issues that matter to our constituents. It has been a failure on both counts. It has been a cynical exercise, using our constitution to peddle hollow soundbites and recycled Bills that will be exposed as froth in the thick of a general election. This stuffed parrot Government with a minus 45 majority have made a hollow wish-list to create a miracle and bring the dead parrot Prime Minister to life. It will not do that; it will never be delivered.

From Prime Minister Cameron to Prime Minister May and now Prime Minister Johnson, the Tory civil war on Europe that used to be a minority obsession has been inflicted on the nation and divided the people with the fog of Brexit. Yet when I visit, as many people in this Chamber do, local pubs, cafés, schools and employers, I find that they would like a different conversation. They would like to see a Government who are on their side, with an agenda that offers hope to current and future generations. They want to see a Government who will start to repair the real damage of nine failed years that have seen our public services devastated by cuts—the political choice, the Tory choice of austerity.

I wanted to see measures in the Queen’s Speech that would—[Interruption.] Does the Under-Secretary want to intervene? Graham Stuart should stand up if he wants to intervene! Stand up! I will start again. I wanted to see measures in the Queen’s Speech that would transform public services right throughout Weaver Vale. Instead, I have seen brilliant schools such as Helsby High School in my constituency have its funding cut by £1.6 million by 2020. One school—£1.6 million! Parents have seen the letters, and hard-pressed teachers and staff have felt more than a financial pinch as posts are left unfilled and support services are cut. It is not quite the same story for Weaverham High School in the Northwich part of my constituency, because things are even worse. Beyond the hollow spin of this Government in name only, the reality for this great comprehensive school is £2 million-worth of cuts by 2020—shameful. This is not an agenda of education, education, education, but cut, cut and cut again.

Turning to policing, the Government’s record is, quite frankly, criminal: 21,000 police officers cut, over 6,000 police community support officers cut, and 600 police stations shut down. What will be the impact of the measures outlined in the Queen’s Speech on my constituency? The whole of Cheshire will have a new target of 90 recruits. This is the same force that has seen frontline police officers cut by 149. Fewer police and support staff equals more crime, and that is according to the Government’s own figures. A Prime Minister who tells porkies to the Queen is telling porkies to the electorate—