The Queen delivered this year’s Queen’s Speech, laying out the government’s agenda for the next year, from the House of Lords earlier today. It featured a bumper list of legislation and bills, though there were still some notable absences, particularly on adult social care.
The leader of the opposition Keir Starmer said the Queen’s Speech did not go nearly far enough to rebuild after the pandemic, while the prime minister insisted that it would give him “the essential tools” to help the United Kingdom reach its potential. For a detailed play-by-play of today’s events, our liveblog is below.
Queen’s Speech 2021 LIVE: Queen delivers government-written speech in State Opening of Parliament
Last updated: Tuesday, 11 May, 2021, 16:47
The PM wraps up
Boris Johnson finishes his time at the despatch box with a vigorous defence of the Union.
He says: “As we build back better greener and fairer we shall benefit as one United Kingdom from the free trade agreements we have regained the power to sign opening up new markets across the world.
“Only last week I agreed an enhanced trade partnership with the prime minister of India, covering £1bn of trade and investment and creating over 6500 jobs across the United Kingdom.”
“As one United Kingdom we will be a force for good in the world, leading the campaign at next month’s G7 summit in Cornwall for global vaccination, education for girls and action on climate change.
“As one United Kingdom we will host the UN climate change conference in Glasgow and help to rally ever more countries to follow our example and pledge to achieve net zero by 2050.
“As one United Kingdom we will continue with ever greater intensity, to connect talent with opportunity. Mobilising the ingenuity and resourcefulness of the British people to achieve their full potential at last.
“It is an enormous task made, a task made both more difficult by the pandemic and yet more urgent, but it is the right task for the country now, I know that the country can achieve it, and this Queen’s Speech provides us Mr Speaker with the essential tools to do it.”
Johnson says he is supporting victims of cladding scandal
Johnson says his government is helping leaseholders trapped in unsafe flats over 18m, and says they are supporting leaseholders at every level.
But says that the Labour party is “resolutely opposed” to home ownership, and “this is one of the crucial differences between them and us”.
Asked by Labour MP for Hove, Peter Kyle, whether he will commit to introducing the Victims’ Bill this year, Johnson shifts focus and asks whether Labour will support the controversial Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill, which increases sentences for some serious crimes, but many people have suggested would criminalise protest.
Johnson commits to Covid inquiry
Lib Dem leader Ed Davey asks whether PM will set up a public inquiry into government’s handling of Covid during this parliament, as he previously promised.
Johnson agrees, says it is “essential” that we have a public inquiry into the pandemic.
Johnson says he’ll look at miner’s pension issue
Asked by the Labour MP for Barnsley East, Stephanie Peacock, Johnson says he is happy to look at the cross-party select committee report on miner’s pensions.
He says, “it is this party and this government that sticks up for people across all walks of life.”
Johnsons says a social care fix is to come later in the year
“We will get on with safeguarding the health of the nation, pressing on full tilt with our vaccination programme until the job is done and our people are as safe as science can make them.
“We will accelerate the recovery of our public services from the crisis of the last year, investing in our NHS and introducing vital reforms. Making it easier for the different arms of the health and care system to work together to provide the best service by introducing the Health and Care bill.
“And we will later this year bring forward proposals on adult social care so that every person receives the dignity and security they deserve in old age.”
Like Starmer, Boris Johnson pays tribute to the deceased Conservative MP, Cheryl Gillan.
He also congratulates Jill Mortimer, the MP for Hartlepool, and thanks those who voted for his party for the first time in the recent set of elections.
The Prime Minister speaks
After the Queen ventriloquised his policy agenda earlier in the day, now the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson will respond to the leader of the opposition.
Johnson notes the success of the vaccine programme, says he can feel the anticipation for things to open back up “like a keg of beer” on Monday.
The government has been working flat out to ensure we can “not just bounce back, but bounce forward” he says.
Says that “jabs jabs jabs” will become “jobs jobs jobs”.
Starmer wraps up
Starmer says the Queen’s Speech shows the government doesn’t understand what went wrong in the last decade, and has no plan for the next.
“This is the time for a transformative agenda, to rebuild Britain’s foundations after a decade of neglect and a year of national sacrifice. to change the foundation of our economy, to invest in the future, to solve the social care crisis, to clean up our politics, and to clean up the mess this government has created over a decade.”
Room for cooperation in places
Starmer says there are parts of the Queen’s Speech Labour is prepared to work with the government on. These include banning conversion therapy, the draft Online Safety bill, the Counter State Threats bill and legislation aimed at tackling violence against women and girls.
Starmer says Labour will have “no part” in the Electoral Integrity bill, as it “tramples on civil liberties” and discriminates.
He says he will also oppose plans to “weaken the power of our courts”.
“This government simply fails to understand that our independent judiciary are a strength for this country, not a weakness”.
He also criticises Johnson for failing to include new lobbying laws, and instead “placing his faith in the 2014 Lobbying Act, the Cameron Act”.
“And where did that end? With a Conservative former Prime Minister being paid huge amounts of money by dodgy companies almost immediately after leaving office.”
“If the Prime Minister wanted to act, there is one area where he is guaranteed cross-party support: the cladding scandal,” says Starmer. He’d be guaranteed the support of NationalWorld on this issue too, for what it’s worth, as we’ve previously reported on the extent of the issue, and how victims are impacted.
“The Grenfell tragedy was four years and three Queen’s speeches ago, yet thousands of people are still trapped in unsafe buildings. Hundreds of thousands of leaseholders caught up in homes they can’t sell or afford. People are facing bankruptcy and great anxiety. “And if anybody needed any reminder of the danger of this look no further than the fire in a block of flats in East London last week.”
He says there is no excuse for the PM’s inaction on cladding.
‘And they call themselves the party of law and order'
Crime is one of the policy areas where Labour struggles against the Conservatives, which former Director of Public Prosecutions Starmer believes he can change.
He says it is the “same story” as adult skills with crime and policing.
“Recorded violent crime has doubled” he says, then repeats again for impact.
“Antisocial behaviour has gone up across every area of England and Wales. And they call themselves the party of law and order.”
‘My dad was a toolmaker'
Starmer now burnishing his working-class background credentials as well as his royalist ones.
“Moving on to talk about skills and education, he says: “I care passionately about this, my Dad was a toolmaker, he worked on the factory floor all his life. And I know that its only through world class skills training, sustained investment and by changing the way we think about vocational training, that Britain can compete in the 2020s and the 2030s.
“The Prime Minister’s rhetoric on lifetime skills is all very well. But the reality is different, over the last 10 years funding on adult education has been slashed by a fifth, and the number of apprentices has fallen by 200,000 in the three years to 2020. So we’ll judge the government on its record, not on the rhetoric that we hear today.”
‘Unforgiveable’ not to include social care plan, Starmer says
Starmer continues, highlighting the glaring omission from the Queen’s Speech which everyone is talking about: social care. “This address should also have included a clear long-term recovery plan for our NHS, but with waiting lists at a record high of 4.7million, what we heard today will come no where near the scale of the change needed. And it is unforgiveable that there is no clear plan to fix social care. I remind the house that it is now 657 days since the Prime Minister stood on the steps of Downing Street and said: ‘We will fix the crisis in social care once and for all with a clear plan we have prepared’.
“Yet 657 days on from that promise what did we hear at this address? Proposals on social care reform will be brought forward. No legislation, no new funding, no details, no timescale.
“Failure to act for a decade - and it was failure to act for a decade - was bad enough, but failure to act after the pandemic is nothing short of an insult to the whole nation.”