I set out my response to the Queen’s Speech in Parliament earlier today.
The Speech could have been an opportunity for a reset by the Government, with a package of reforms to help the country cope with the cost-of-living crisis, and whilst I’m frankly sick of saying it – the Government’s response completely fails to match the scale of the problem. Many of the proposals announced in the Speech are more about the Tory Party’s self-preservation, which is disappointing to see at a time when people are under enormous pressure.
• The Government chose to focus on culture wars at the expense of all-important financial support for households. This included targeting peaceful climate activists with the Public Order Bill and the spiteful privatisation of Channel 4, which threatens the future of over 60 independent production companies as well as a £1billion loss in investment for the UK.
• There was a missed opportunity to bring forward the Animals Abroad Bill (which would ban the import of foie gras and fur) and a Trophy Hunting Bill, but it is little surprise to see the Conservative Party row back on commitments to protect animal welfare.
• I spoke about the need to tighten up the Online Safety Bill with action on misogyny, self-harm, and disinformation. I also argued that we have simply waited too long for certain Bills including Renters Reform and the Mental Health Act Reform Bill to be introduced – with people continuing to suffer as a result.
• I need to see the detail of the Levelling-Up and Regeneration Bill, but I spoke about the need to balance the demand for new housing with the also important need to protect green spaces, citing the example of Brislington Meadows, where we have the competing pressures of the One City Ecological Strategy (which sets a target of maintaining 30% of the city for the benefit of wildlife by 2030) and the requirement under the now outdated Local Plan to build more homes on the site. I hope that when the Bill comes before us for Second Reading I can make the case for greater powers to resist the demands of developers in such situations.
It will be some time before we get to debate these Bills in detail and still longer before they become law; I hope that we will see some significant improvements by the end of that process.