Queen's Speech: Reactions


All the latest reactions to the Queen's Speech.

David Cameron, Conservative party

"There were some good things in the speech - like home-school contracts and transparency over pay - not least because they were proposed from these benches.

"But what is most striking about this speech is what is missing.
The Prime Minister has just made a great long speech on immigration. But where is the Immigration bill in the Queen's speech?

"Then there's the biggest omission of all, and frankly it will infuriate the British people who we are here to represent. The Prime Minister said the whole reason for delaying the election, the whole reason he couldn't go to the country this summer, was because he wanted to clean up the mess of MPs' expenses.
Yet there is no mention of expenses or the Kelly report in the Queen's Speech.

"This is the shortest Queen's Speech since 1997. They've run out of money, run out of time, run out of ideas.

"Instead of some half-baked Queens Speech and delayed general election, we need an immediate election and a real Queens Speech.

"A real Queen's Speech would acknowledge how broke the country is, and have a proper plan to reduce the deficit.

"A real Queen's Speech would acknowledge the tragedy of unemployment, with one in five young people not getting a job, and introduce proper welfare reform.

"A real Queen's Speech wouldn't tinker with the education system, but would break open the state monopoly, allowing new schools to be set up, and giving parents more choice.

"A real Queen's Speech would mean real reform of the NHS - real choice for patients, real transparency, with health outcomes published online so that doctors are accountable to their patients.

"Instead we got a Queens Speech which is just a Labour press release on Palace parchment."

Caroline Lucas, Green Party

"John Bercow wore a cloak not stockings but real modernisation would mean a PR voting system for more women and minorities in parliament."

"We welcome the bill to finally ratify the international ban on cluster munitions.

"However, the proposed bills on banking and fiscal responsibility do not go anywhere near far enough. We need a root-and-branch transformation of the banking sector, and we must move away from the failed system of huge private banks gambling on the global casino.
"Instead of the government's proposed energy bill, we would favour a nationwide programme that puts energy efficiency and warm homes at its centre."

Nick Clegg, Liberal Democrats

"This Queen's Speech won't give people the help and jobs they need in this recession and it won't fix our rotten politics.

"Let me set out, in just a few words, what real reform would look like and what the focus of the last 70 days of this parliament should have been.

"We should introduce a power of recall so people can sack any MP found guilty of serious misconduct. We should have real action to reform the House of Lords. We should agree total change to party funding so big money and the whiff of corruption it brings are removed from politics for good. And introduce fixed term parliaments so the voters can never again be toyed with by a Prime Minister planning an election timetable to save his or her own skin.

"These changes would be a tall order but with political will they could transform our threadbare democratic institutions."

Ken Ritchie, Electoral Reform Society on constitutional reform and governance bill

"Bold initiatives were needed to demonstrate the government is serious about changing the nature of politics. This was the moment for proposing a referendum on electoral reform but all we got was a timid claim that 'legislation will continue to be taken forwards'.

"The government can still act - to save Labour's reputation if not its skin - but it needs to be quick."

Christina Blower, National Union of Teachers, on the children, schools and families bill

"The proposed licence to practise is the worst way to improve teachers' access to ongoing training. There is nothing to welcome in these proposals. Many schools simply don't have the budgets to pay for training. A licence could simply encourage unfair treatment.

"The proposed school report card could turn into a bureaucratic nightmare for schools. The idea that a school's achievements can be boiled down to a single letter or number is absurd, particularly given the government's punitive approach to school improvement.
"This is exacerbated by ever more vociferous threats to close so called failing schools, which serve only to undermine school communities rather than help them.

"Teachers and head teachers already labour under an excessive burden of bureaucratic measures that have little to do with teaching and more to do with artificial targets."

Willie Sullivan, director of Vote for a Change, on the constitutional reform and governance bill

"This was a huge missed opportunity to announce a bill on a referendum on voting reform as the only meaningful response to this summer's expenses crisis. Rather than making a clear statement of intent, the Speech merely stated: 'Legislation will continue to be taken forward on constitutional reform'.

"We now need to know whether this still leaves the door open for a referendum bill on reform, or whether those who are frightened of change are still to be allowed to keep the door firmly bolted."

Dave Prentis, Unison

"The programme in this Queen's speech shows that the government has been listening to the worries and concerns of ordinary people. It has taken up the issues that matter to them - care for the elderly, curbs on risk-taking and sharp practices by the financial sector, health care, poverty and the environment.
"We expect the agency workers' directive to be implemented immediately.
"This is in contrast to the Tories and Lib Dems who seem to think that parliament should spend the next six months twiddling its collective thumbs.
"We want to make sure that public services remain at the heart of the economic recovery and that funding is in place to meet the needs of ordinary

John Walker, Federation of Small Businesses

"The banking sector reform proposals have the potential to help the quarter of small businesses still struggling to access affordable finance and we welcome support for those grappling with broadband access and looking to play their part in moving towards a low carbon economy - however, small firms must feel the benefit of these proposals rather than becoming victims of pre-election rivalry.

"More than half of small businesses rely on the internet for up to 50 per cent of their annual turnover, so the online world is crucial to small business development. The government must show its support for firms, particularly in rural Britain where businesses have been waiting for years for promised government action to deal with the 'notspots'.

"It is essential that any levy placed on the energy suppliers for carbon capture is not passed on to hard pressed households and small businesses that are already facing increasingly large energy bills."

Sue Collins, Joseph Rowntree Foundation, on the personal care at home bill

"We welcome the Prime Minister's commitment in the Queen's speech to reform the current adult care system. However, our evidence shows that for any new system to work it must be fair, transparent and sustainable.

"Too many users of the current system are left in the dark to struggle with inadequate services. At the moment many older people who choose to remain independent, and can afford to fund their own care, do not receive any advice, information or advocacy."

Richard Kemp, Local Government Association, Liberal Democrats, on the child poverty and equality bills

"The child poverty bill and the equality bill as outlined in the Queen's speech today are high on rhetoric and low on deliverability - in short they are mere gestures.

"To give us a duty whilst retaining 75% of the budgets and 90% of the processes by which poverty can be fought achieves nothing.

"I know of no council, irrespective of political control, that is not aware of the gaps between rich and poor and between a variety of communities. The government needs to get real about what can and cannot be done by councils without further legislation to transfer cash and powers back to us.

"After 12 years we need more action and fewer words from a government that has massively failed to deal with equality or poverty."

Angus Robertson, MP, SNP

"This is less of a legislative programme and more of a closing down sale by a tired government that is out of time.

"If Labour were serious about more responsibilities for the Scottish parliament, the Speech would have included actual legislation before the general election, not simply empty promises. There wasn't even a commitment to implementing the Calman proposals - only taking them forward - which must mean that Labour have already junked key recommendations. The Lib Dems must be in despair at having been sold the 'Calman con'.

"The Calman commission backs these powers, the opposition parties back these powers, the Scottish Government backs transferring these powers - it seems the only people holding Scotland back are Gordon Brown and Jim Murphy."

Elfyn Llwyd, MP, Plaid Cymru

"Considering the fact that so much space was given in the budget to guaranteeing that people under 25 who are unemployed for a year would get more help to get job or training - it is disappointing that there is not a single reference to this in the Queen's Speech.

"We also believe that a military well-being bill is vital, to address problems such as the quality of MOD housing, the equipment shortage in Afghanistan and supporting a comprehensive veterans service for former personnel.

"In several parts, this speech contains warm words but as we know warm words do not butter any parsnips."

Progress on constitutional reform and governance bill

"Progress is disappointed that today's Queen's speech did not contain legislation to fulfil the commitment the Prime Minister made in his speech to Labour party conference in Brighton to hold a referendum on changing the voting system to the alternative vote.

"Without legislation this commitment remains little more than an aspiration, rather than a real intent to give citizens more power to vote for their representatives in parliament.

"Progress and the Labour campaign for electoral reform have today sent a letter to the Prime Minister from 35 Labour parliamentary candidates which states we do not believe that Labour will benefit at the next general election unless voters see that we are prepared to actually deliver a chance of real change'.

"Given the depth of public cynicism towards politicians then - without demonstrable proof of intent - it will be regarded as just another paper promise."

Stephen Robinson, director general of British Retail Consortium (BRC), on the equality bill and agency workers regulations

"Heaping new number crunching obligations on to businesses will mean damaging extra costs but won't make any difference to the gender pay gap.

"Gaps between average male and female pay may just show men are in roles that attract higher pay, not that they are being paid more for doing the same job, " said Stephen Robinson, director general of the BRC.

"Businesses will struggle to respond to peaks and troughs in demand and to cover for absent permanent staff.

"Retailers support protecting workers' rights but temporary staff are already covered by all key employment rights and protected by health and safety and discrimination legislation. The UK currently has an excellent reputation for its flexible labour market making it an attractive place for companies to invest and create jobs. These proposals will damage this status.

"Government should be concentrating on those workers who have been in temporary positions for a long time. Adding prohibitive costs will deter companies from using agency workers and twelve week contracts will become the norm - this is not in the interests of employers or workers."

Jim Footner, Greenpeace, on the energy bill

"This speech signalled the Government's desire to fund its demonstration programme of carbon capture and storage.

"But it should have included a tough regulation ensuring that new coal plants will not be allowed to operate at the expense of the climate.

"It will be easier for the Government to sell public funding for carbon capture and storage to cash-strapped British consumers if it goes hand-in-hand with a legal limit on emissions from power stations. And this legal limit would make sure that the coal utilities can't simply get paid to carry on causing climate change."

Willie Sullivan, director of Vote for a Change, on the constitutional reform and governance bill

'This was a huge missed opportunity to announce a bill on a referendum on voting reform as the only meaningful response to this summer's expenses crisis. Rather than making a clear statement of intent, the Speech merely stated: 'Legislation will continue to be taken forward on constitutional reform'.

We now need to know whether this still leaves the door open for a referendum bill on reform, or whether those who are frightened of change are still to be allowed to keep the door firmly bolted."

Kirsty Hughes, Oxfam, on international development spending draft bill

"I welcome the Government's pledge to make it a legal requirement for Britain to deliver on its aid promises but it is disappointing that ministers have not found time for a full bill ahead of the general election.

"Committing future governments to keeping Britain's word to poor people is something all parties should support and Oxfam urges them to work together to ensure this bill reaches the statute book before the election."

Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors

"The RICS is again disappointed that the housing bill has been dropped.

"The introduction of standards and supervision in this sector is long overdue and Rics believes that now is the time to introduce measures, when many more people have to rely on private renting, both as individual landlords and tenants.

"Currently only 50 per cent of letting agents belong to a voluntary regulatory scheme and many landlords do not use an agent, meaning less than half of all rental transactions are regulated, with the attendant risks to tenants' deposits and landlord rents. Industry estimates are that up to £12bn - much of it unprotected - is in the hands of landlords and agents in this sector."

"Development of carbon capture and storage technology needs to be accelerated to ensure the UK is able to meet its carbon reduction targets.

"RICS urges that measures should be put in place to support a more targeted approach to flooding at the individual property level; this is clearly in the public interest.

"A practical way of doing this would be to provide a modest grant for households which have been flooded to put in place flood resistance measures at the same time as insurance repairs are being carried out. This would save cost for all the parties and reduce the impact of flooding over time."

Paul Kenny, GMB, Britain's general union, on financial services bill and personal care at home bill

"It is high time that the government took proper legal powers to cut bankers bonuses. It is unlikely that the Tory party, which is fielding 63 bankers and financiers as candidates in the next election will support the government on this long overdue popular measure.

"GMB members will want to know if the Tory party supports the new legal right to see a specialist in 2 weeks if a GP suspects a patient may have cancer.

"The planned new National Care Service is a landmark development. How it will operate to keep people in their homes will become a major election issue given the welcome rise in the number of people living longer."

Peter Facey, director of Unlock Democracy, on the constitutional reform and governance bill

"The Queen's Speech offers us little new in terms of democratic renewal: a piecemeal constitutional renewal bill which was first announced two years ago and then conspicuously dropped from last year's government programme, the opportunity to debate a few proposals on Lords reform which again could have been debated last year and some vague hogwash about restoring 'trust'.

"We still face the fundamental problem of a political elite that is fundamentally unaccountable.The government needs to give the public a clear indication that they have learned the real lessons of the expenses crisis and that there will be no more 'business as usual' in Westminster."

James Lloyd, researcher at Social Market Foundation (SMF), on the personal care at home bill

"Reform will never be a vote winner. For the public to buy into any reform, they have to know that the rules of the game won't alter every time there is a change of government. Everyone in the social care field realises this, except the politicians."

Joyce Moseley, charity Catch22, on crime and security bill

"In our experience, parents do want help when it comes to improving their children's behaviour.

If there is now to be a process of mandatory assessment of parenting needs, then these assessments must be followed up with targeted support to help parents develop the skills necessary to make a real difference to their children's behaviour.

"I agree that when a young person breaches the terms of their ASBO, we need to look at ways of supporting the entire family to identify the numerous and complex causes for the anti-social behaviour.

But placing sole responsibility for a child's behaviour at the feet of parents, does not acknowledge the many reasons for bad behaviour - some of which the parents will have no control over."

Peter Vicary-Smith, Which?, on digital economy bill

"Although we support a crackdown on illegal file-sharing, we're concerned that these proposals could see the wrong people being targeted while the real culprits slip through the net.

"We must ensure that illegal file-sharers are identified and dealt with appropriately and that those who have been wrongly accused have access to a fair, free and quick independent adjudication system and that any penalties are proportionate."

Bettina Bender, partner in employment law at CM Murray LLP, on financial services bill

"Included in today's Queen's Speech the government announced the key proposals of the Financial Services Bill (FSB), due to become law before next year's election.

"The bill is expected to give the Financial Services Authority the power to effectively tear up previously agreed guaranteed contractual bonus entitlements for bankers.

"In the wake of the announced FSB, there has been an outcry from supporters of the free market employment contract.

"The FSB seemingly only targets guaranteed bonuses and the new rules will not affect bonus payments for this 2009, which is still expected to be a bumper year for the banks. With no cap on bonuses overall the practical effect of the FSB in terms of reducing the level of bonuses in fact paid is likely to be very limited."


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