All the reactions to the 2010 Queen's Speech.
By politics.co.uk staff
TUC general secretary Brendan Barber:
"The speech contains important issues to welcome - restoring the state pension link with earnings, cracking down on high-risk activities in the City, and an extra push on green energy. Extending flexible working rights to all employees and further action to close the pay gap could also bring positive changes to UK workplaces. But plans to scrap important initiatives to get young people into work, abolish key public bodies and throw public sector workers on the dole will only worsen the fragile economic situation. The government's overwhelming focus on reducing the deficit, when ministers should be concentrating on restoring growth and halting rising unemployment, is a huge mistake."
Director of Unlock Democracy Peter Facey:
"It is a ground breaking achievement by this two week old coalition to transform such a reforming legislative agenda into concrete legislative proposals so early in the parliament. This speech is a welcome relief from 13 years of previously warm words on legislative reform. The Take Back Parliament demonstrations have shown that there is massive public support for sweeping political reforms. The devil will be in the detail however. The challenge now will be to ensure that this speech lives up to the hype. We will continue to campaign for a proportional electoral system, with citizens involved in the process. We warmly welcome this highly impressive first act of a government still in its political infancy. We look forward to the prospect of more reforms to come, as this government gets fully into its stride."
General secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) Dr Mary Bousted:
"These proposals to turn more schools into academies are just irresponsible. They have not been properly thought through and could end up making a mess of education provision through their unintended consequences. Cutting local authorities out of the equation will end any meaningful local planning to target funding to the children who need more help such as those with special needs. Schools are less likely to work collaboratively if they are doing their own thing and competing for resources and pupils. Local democracy will be damaged if parents, staff and local authorities are given no say in whether their schools are turned into academies. If academies are allowed to determine their own pay and conditions, this will create uncertainty for staff and could make it even harder for the most deprived schools in the toughest areas to recruit staff. When there is no proof that academies improve children's education, certainly no more than any other school with extra funding, and with several academies in special measures, it is particularly irresponsible to push more schools down this route."
Unison general secretary Dave Prentis:
"The plans set out in this dismal Queen's Speech spell danger for public services, and for economic growth and offer little hope to either the young or long-term jobless. Breaking up the NHS and schools, letting the Tories' friends in big business get a slice of the pie, will not deliver better services or save money. It is not what the public want either. Poll after poll shows people don't want greater private sector involvement in public services. With the recovery at an embryonic stage, it is vital that support for growth is maintained. Cutting public services and jobs now will hit local economies, stunting economic growth, and ultimately force long-term borrowing up."
Green MP Caroline Lucas:
"It's a pack of half-hearted measures. For example they talk about far-reaching political reforms, but all they're offering is a referendum on AV, which would go nowhere near far enough. There are warm words on climate change and energy efficiency, but no real detail. We need to see genuine commitment to serious targets and to the investment needed to meet those targets. Even worse, the fact that this comes the day after we've heard of budget cuts to public transport suggests the joined-up thinking isn't there. The Green party welcomes the scrapping of ID cards, but we would also like to have seen action on the use of control orders."
Plaid Cymru Westminster leader Elfyn Llwyd:
"I am of course pleased that the referendum for law-making powers for Wales is finally one step closer to being realised. After months of to-ing and fro-ing between first Mr Hain and now Ms Gillan, we at least now have a promise. The One Wales government is committed to having the referendum before the 2011 Welsh Assembly elections and I would urge the secretary of state to pursue this as a matter of priority now. The Plaid-driven government in Wales has successfully got the referendum on to the agenda and it is now time for Ms Gillan to keep her side of the bargain and not to employ any further delaying tactics."
Friends of the Earth executive director Andy Atkins:
"New green laws are the key to unlocking the enormous potential of a low carbon economy. It is essential that the new legislation delivers on the coalition's election promises, such as a Green Investment Bank and pollution standards for power stations - saying they 'may' be included in the Energy Bill is just not good enough. Harnessing the UK's massive green energy resource and getting tough on energy waste will create new jobs and business opportunities, increase energy security and help make this country a world leader in tackling climate change. The government must also ensure that every council plays its part in meeting UK climate targets by introducing local carbon budgets in the decentralisation and localism bill. Councils should be able to decide the best strategy for cutting emissions in their area - but they mustn't be allowed to opt out of playing their fair part in developing a greener future."
Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) head of campaigns Ben Stafford:
"If the government's proposed planning and housing bill follows the pre-election Conservative proposals, we are in for massive and far-reaching changes to how development is carried out. Those changes have huge potential, but for this to be realised will need some careful handling. Ministers must remember that a successful planning system is about more than just delivering economic development. Planning is also one of the best ways to bring about genuinely sustainable development that involves local people and protects and enhances the environment. A new planning system should keep the best of what has gone before, including a plan-led approach, strong protection for Green Belt land and the wider countryside, as well as making better use of previously used 'brownfield' sites. Given the scale of the changes the Government is proposing, there must be a full process of consultation before the new Bill appears this autumn. A draft bill would give MPs and others the chance to make sure that the final proposals are strong and effective. Finally, we hope that the government presses ahead quickly with its plans to protect wildlife, promote green spaces and safeguard the countryside. The Conservatives promised a white paper in this area, and the Liberal Democrats have similar proposals. The new government obviously has a very full in-tray, but acting to protect the wildlife, landscapes and beauty that make rural England so distinctive should be near the very top."
Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (Rics) director of external affairs Mark Goodwin:
"The proposals in the energy bill demonstrate an important commitment to improving energy efficiency in existing homes, offices and other buildings. This will help provide essential support to people and businesses that are aiming to reduce their energy bills and will help the government meet legally binding emissions reduction targets. The aspiration to devolve more powers to councils and neighbourhoods is laudable. However, critical to the success of this approach will be the design of mechanisms which will allow delivery of much needed housing, infrastructure and facilities despite possible objections from the few. Rics welcomes investment in high speed rail in the UK, as part of a transition to a low carbon economy. Critical to the success of a major infrastructure project like this is a rigorous approach to public sector procurement, project management and construction, as well as a well-designed compulsory purchase and compensation framework. The provision of broadband for rural areas underpins their existence as sustainable communities. Rics welcomes progress on delivering increasing circuit capacity to remote rural locations. This should include formalised working with code system operators to share investment in infrastructure so that pooled demand can create economic justification for fibre provision to remote areas."
Child Poverty Action Group head of policy, rights and advocacy Imran Hussain:
"The government must make the right choices for the future if it is to meet its pledges on ending child poverty, fair taxes and a welfare system that supports families properly. Easy cuts today to family security will backfire, costing us more in the long-term. The benefit system should be judged on protecting family security, supporting people into decent jobs and spending public money efficiently. Recent reforms have failed on all counts. A new welfare reform bill is a chance to change direction away from the failed top-down sanctions bureaucracy that wastes public money and denies people entitlement to the support they need to get into work. It's time to scrap the bureaucracy and empower people from the bottom up so they can take control of their lives. Tax fairness will only be achieved if every tax change proposed by the government is put through a rigorous fairness test to assess its impacts on inequality. Any proposal that fails this test must be rethought."
British Humanist Association (BHA) head of public affairs Naomi Phillips:
"The numerous, costly and exclusive religious activities that the Pope will undertake in September are completely illegitimate for a state visit, and one that the British people are being asked to pay for. The Pope is either making an official State visit, in which case the Vatican and the Holy See should be scrutinised on their damaging doctrines, or he is making a private, pastoral visit to proselytise. They cannot have it both ways. In the pre-election leaders' debate, David Cameron and Nick Clegg both said that they disagreed with the Vatican on a number of key issues, including its views on homosexuality, science, and contraception. The BHA and our partner organisations will be working throughout the visit to raise those issues and the Pope's damaging opposition to universal equality and human rights."
Vote for a Change head of campaign Willie Sullivan:
"To sidestep the date of the referendum in the coalition agreement was unfortunate. To skip over it in the Queen's Speech looks like carelessness. The Conservatives shot down the last government's referendum bill in wash-up. Today they really don't want to give their partners or the public the impression they would like to see voting reform kicked voting reform into the long grass. The referendum bill is a very straightforward piece of legislation. They can fish the amendments to the constitutional renewal bill out the dustbin if they need any pointers. Only a clear timetable can make this Reform Act great."
Electoral Reform Society chief executive Ken Ritchie:
"Voting reform was a make-or-break issue in coalition negotiations, and it will remain a point of controversy until the government names a date for the referendum. Lib Dems and Conservatives are demonstrating a maturity few could have expected given the scare mongering about coalition governments. But hiding from the commitment to a referendum is not what the public expect from a grown-up government. This referendum will be the litmus test for democratic reform. The government says it wants to give power back to the people, well letting voters decide on the door policy for the House of Commons seems the right place to start. This coalition has put the cart before the horse by putting boundary reviews ahead of commitments for a referendum. It is worrying that the government is rushing into a 'reduce and equalise' policy that has little do with fairness. Any 'fair vote' reforms worth having must begin by tackling first-past-the-post."