“You wouldn’t know from the Tory Queen’s Speech that there’s a social emergency in our country. While millions fall into poverty the Government refuses to act.”Richard Burgon MP
By Ben Folley
The Queen’s Speech, delivered this year in front of an ermine-clad House of Lords by Prince Charles, was a million miles away from what was needed for the millions unable to afford food and energy bills.
Aside from the Prince, the Imperial State Crown, the Ceremonial Mace, the Cap of Maintenance, and Sword of State had their own cars to travel to Parliament. But only the day before, a report found that almost 7 million adults are regularly skipping meals or limiting portions, because of the cost of food.
And adding to the economic crisis backdrop, the directors of the private energy firms were warning gas and electricity bills could increase by another £1000 this Autumn, on top of the £700 increase this Spring.
The Queen’s Speech offered no news of additional finance or measures to deal with the cost-of-living crisis, or any Emergency Budget, as the TUC have demanded, though the Government have returned to the language of their so-called ‘levelling up’ agenda and announced a new Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill.
A Brexit Freedoms Bill threatens to open the door to new deregulation, as do the Financial Services and Markets Bill and the Data Reform Bill.
All that will please big business, as will the lack of any Employment Bill measure which the government have promised on at least 20 occasions.
And those protesting the Government’s agenda will face new restrictions on protest, if the new Public Order Bill is passed.
The Queen’s Speech debate will now last six days, but left MPs and trade unions have already blasted the measures.
Richard Burgon MP, Secretary of the Socialist Campaign Group of Labour MPs, confirmed he was seeking to amend the speech to tackle unearned wealth, when he said, “You wouldn’t know from the Tory Queen’s Speech that there’s a social emergency in our country. While millions fall into poverty the Government refuses to act. That’s why I’ve just put down an amendment for a Wealth Tax Bill that could create a huge emergency fund to help people.”
Ian Byrne MP for Liverpool West Derby, who has led campaigning on the Right to Food, also tabled an amendment, saying, “Today I have put down an amendment to The Queen’s Speech on behalf of the Right To Food campaign, demanding that the Government legislates for a Right To Food during this Parliamentary session.”
Jon Trickett MP, said, “millions of families are struggling to put food on the table and heat their homes. But the Tories are carrying on as if it’s business as usual. We need a radical new approach.”
Nadia Whittome MP said, “Two million adults can’t afford to eat every day. Half a million children are being plunged into absolute poverty. But instead of addressing the cost of living crisis in the Queen’s Speech, the Tories are tearing up our human rights, targeting protesters and selling off Channel 4.”
Whilst former Shadow Employment Rights Secretary of State, Andy McDonald MP, said, “The Queen’s Speech has set out some of the most reactionary & authoritarian legislation in living memory. What’s more, there’s a total absence of any measures to support hard-pressed families facing the cost-of-living crisis, like the ones I hear from in Middlesbrough.”
Elsewhere, the TUC’s Frances O’Grady commented on the lack of an Employment Bill, saying, “Today is a great day for rogue employers. The government’s failure to bring forward an employment bill will leave millions without vital rights and protections. Working people have been conned.”
Whilst Sharon Graham, leader of Britain’s biggest trade union, Unite, said, “Workers and communities are suffering. We are in the middle of a cost of living crisis and a recession is looming. So where is the programme to address these issues head on? Where are the laws to stop profiteering & prevent attacks on workers?”
Public sector union head, Christine McAnea from UNISON, said, “This is a government that’s run out of ideas. Its planned laws won’t make a shred of difference to the millions crushed by soaring living costs. Ministers haven’t grasped the seriousness of the crisis. Families are being forced into debt and are going hungry.
Unscrupulous bosses will cheer the demise of the promised employment bill. But its absence will dismay workers in perilous jobs. For many, fire and rehire on less pay has become the grim reality Queens Speech. No new cash for an inflating-busting pay rise means the NHS and other essential services will go on shedding experienced staff. Waits for treatment will get longer and services worsen for everyone.”
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