Queen’s Speech: a missed opportunity

May 30 2022
Queen’s Speech: a missed opportunity

Bristol East MP Kerry McCarthy writes for the Voice

DESPITE the unveiling of a hefty package of bills, there was little in this year’s Queen’s Speech to address the real issues facing this country. It’s a relief to finally see proposed legislation that protects access to cash, promises a football regulator, and will look at improvements to social housing. But generally, it missed the mark in what had the potential to be a watershed moment for Britain.

I welcome the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill, somewhat cautiously after a decade of areas being lost in managed decline. If it’s genuinely able to deliver more power to local communities rather than developers, it’ll be a brilliant thing for the whole of Bristol, helping us build high-quality, zero-carbon, affordable new homes in the places where they are desperately needed, but also giving us greater powers to protect green spaces.

Conversely, it’s been hugely disappointing to see the privatisation of Channel 4 play out, something I’ve fiercely opposed. Channel 4 invests more in independent production companies outside London than any other broadcaster, including through our regional hub in Bristol. This move threatens the future of over 60 of these independent companies and a £1 billion loss in investment. There is no need to privatise it.

It was good to see the Renters Reform Bill, and the scrapping of no-fault evictions, although the delay has been inexcusable. The legislation was promised three years ago, and in that time the number of people evicted in Bristol from private rented property through no fault of their own has more than doubled. 

The most glaring omission from the speech was any action to address the cost-of-living crisis. The Government hasn’t seemed to grasp the immediacy or severity of the situation. 

It’s the Government’s responsibility to mitigate the hardship and determine who pays the cost of this crisis. A Windfall Tax on the likes of BP and Shell would hardly make a dent in their billion-pound oil tankers, and yet instead, it’s ordinary people who continue to bear the brunt.

Each week MPs hear from constituents resorting to using transport or shopping centres to stay warm, visiting libraries to get internet access, or taking up second or even third jobs to put food on the table. 

In this regard, the Queen’s Speech was a massive missed opportunity. The Government continues to be more interested in stoking up culture wars than in genuinely trying to help people.

When you consider that the Food Foundation is saying that one in seven adults now live in homes where people have skipped meals, eaten less, or gone hungry, it becomes abundantly clear that an Emergency Budget is essential.

I hope that growing pressure will force the Chancellor’s hand.