Yesterday the House of Commons debated the Queen’s Speech. Herewith some extracts of contributions from Conservative members.
David Cameron was on very good form. He was funny, and coped ably with questions about Damian Green before turning his fire on the Government:
"Let me tell the Prime Minister what is wrong with this Queen’s Speech. There is no recognition in the Government’s programme of how the world has changed. We are moving into an age in which there is no Government money left, so we need public sector reform to get better value for money. We are moving into an age of massive debt, so we need to mend the broken society and reduce the demands on the state. But in the Queen’s Speech there is no serious reform, just bureaucratic bungling and technocratic tinkering. It is all about the short-term prospects of the Prime Minister, not the long-term future of the country. It is last year’s Queen’s Speech from yesterday’s Prime Minister.
“Let the work of change begin.”
Let us examine them. We were told that there would be loads of eco towns, but only one is still alive. He promised zero-carbon homes, but there have been virtually zero of them. There are just 15 in the whole country. He promised 3 million new homes, but house building fell by a quarter last year. What about free nursery education for all two-year-olds? That has been abandoned. More maintenance grants for students were granted last year, collapsed in a complete shambles this year and face massive cuts next year. Then there is the Prime Minister’s promise of a new constitutional settlement. We were promised more powers for Parliament to question the Executive. That one ended up down the nick.
What about the statement of British values? Does anyone remember that? According to Government sources, that will never see the light of day. What about British day? Does anyone remember that one? The question is simple—when will it be? How long does it take to set a date for a new bank holiday? Given that the Prime Minister is about to stand up and cancel happy hour, we need cheering up. When will it be?
It would not matter if those ideas were all just gimmicks, but some of them really raised people’s hopes. Whatever happened to social homebuy? The scheme was launched in a blaze of glory and was by now meant to have helped 10,000 families to buy their home— [ Interruption. ] I know that the Government do not follow these things, but we like to check up on them. It was meant to have helped 10,000 families, but it has helped just 235. With this Prime Minister, it is always about short-term politics and never about long-term change.
The Prime Minister is wrong in recession; he is wrong for the recovery. Largely responsible for the collapse of our economy, he is absolutely clueless about the collapse of our society. He is yesterday’s man, so will he get on and call an election so that the people of this country can put this dreadful Government out of their misery and start the long-term change that our country needs?"
Andrew Robathan, MP for Blaby and a Deputy Opposition Chief Whip, highlighted Gordon Brown’s past use of leaked material:
"When the Prime Minister was in opposition, he adroitly used information that public servants gave him, which he believed it was in the public interest to know, and placed it in the public domain. Does he believe that a Member of Parliament doing exactly what he did when he was in opposition should be arrested?
The Prime Minister: I notice that Conservative Members do not want to talk about the economy. [ Interruption. ] That is absolutely true. I uphold the right of Members of Parliament to pursue their duties in a way that is necessary for the public interest. Today, the acting police commissioner has said that the police are investigating a substantial series of leaks from the Home Office potentially involving national security."
Bill Cash, MP for Stone, prompted an extraordinary remark from the Speaker:
"I am grateful to you, Mr. Speaker. The Prime Minister has just said that the House has decided on the inquiry. That is not the case. This was a statement made by you and not by the House. Do you agree?
Mr. Speaker: Once again, it is a debate. It is not always the case that exact accuracy is called for. [Interruption.] Order. It is a debate. Sometimes the hon. Gentleman has not been too accurate, and I have had to put him right."
Chichester MP Andrew Tyrie pressed the Prime Minister to admit that he is fallible:
"The Prime Minister has announced a series of measures to deal with repossessions, which are of course the consequence of a gigantic recession. On reflection, is he prepared to say today that at least some of that recession is a direct consequence of his decision to over-borrow and mismanage the economy over the past 10 years?
The Prime Minister: Every country in the world is facing a downturn. Only the Conservative party thinks that it is a national matter, but this is a world downturn that has to be dealt with by world action. I know that the Conservative party opposes action in Europe, but action in Europe is essential to deal with the problem. Action around the world, by calling the G20, is necessary also. It is amazing: nowhere else that I go in the world do I hear politicians saying to me, “Let’s do nothing”, but that is the policy of the Conservative party."
Alas Mr Brown is wholly unwilling to acknowledge his responsibility for the mess we’re in.