I didn’t hear David Cameron’s response to the Queen’s Speech as I’ve been away from my desk all afternoon but here are a few highlights from the text:
Things to welcome in the Speech: "I am delighted the Government is to link the basic state pension with earnings – our proposal at the last election. The Treasury has finally been forced to make the provision of statistics independent. Again, something we called for at the last election. And then there’s the Climate Change Bill – proposed over and over again by Conservatives, and opposed by the Prime Minister. Can I say how delighted I am to see a Bill in the Gracious Speech? I hope it will be a proper Bill and not a watered down Bill. Government has to give a lead by setting a proper framework. That must mean an independent body with annual targets and an annual report from government on its progress."
Iraq: "There are no easy options. Militarily, we must do all we can to build up the Iraqi army. Diplomatically, we need to involve the regional powers. While there is merit in contact with Syria and Iran – after all, the point of diplomacy is to talk to countries well beyond our traditional friends – it is on the moderate Arab governments that our efforts should concentrate. Their support for stability in Iraq is what we most need. And the key to securing that support is a fresh and unremitting push to resolve the Israel-Palestine conflict. I hope the Prime Minister will press President Bush to use America’s influence to the full to achieve this, as well as enlisting the support of Europe. Taking these steps and maximising stability is the right background to bringing our troops home. But we should not set an artificial timetable."
Northern Ireland: "Turning to Northern Ireland, we back the efforts to restore power-sharing devolution in Northern Ireland. We are clear that if it is going to succeed then Sinn Fein must support the police, the courts and the rule of law. They could start by telling their supporters to co-operate with the police investigation into the brutal and callous murder of Robert McCartney. When people look back at the Prime Minister’s time in office, they will give him enormous credit for his unstinting efforts to bring peace to Northern Ireland."
The Blair years: "After three massive majorities, almost a decade in power, 10 Gracious Speeches, and 370 pieces of legislation, the question they have to answer is why has so little been achieved? It’s because they have put headlines above delivery. They believe in centralised power, not social responsibility. And, all too often, they’ve passed laws to score political points, rather than to achieve real change. And Mr Speaker this Queen’s Speech is no different. It’s so repetitive and so hollow that people know they’ve heard it all before."
No action on the causes of crime: "At the
beginning of his time, the Prime Minister offered the nation hope that
he would tackle the causes of crime. As we look at the measures placed
before the House today, all we see is the betrayal and debasement of
that vital agenda. Nothing about family breakdown. And nothing about
tackling addiction and dependency. The Prime Minister’s simply given
up on the causes of crime. All we get is a series of eye-catching
initiatives, which last about as long as a news bulletin."