Portsmouth politicians say Queen's speech was a 'wasted opportunity' to tackle rising living costs

THE Queen’s speech was a ‘wasted opportunity’ to give insight into how the government would handle the rising cost of living, according to critics.

By David George and Josh Wright
Tuesday, 10th May 2022, 5:25 pm
Updated Tuesday, 10th May 2022, 5:26 pm
Prince Charles, Prince of Wales reads the Queen's speech flanked by Prince William and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall. Picture: Arthurt Edwards - WPA Pool/Getty Images
Prince Charles, Prince of Wales reads the Queen's speech flanked by Prince William and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall. Picture: Arthurt Edwards - WPA Pool/Getty Images

In the Houses of Parliament Prince Charles delivered the Queen’s speech to peers and MPs, stepping in for Her Majesty the Queen due to her mobility problems.

At 874 words, the speech was the shortest since 2013 – setting out plans to boost the economy and promises to support struggling households – but amid the 38 bills no immediate changes were announced to help families in the short-term.

The Queen’s speech is read out every year to set an agenda for her government to follow over the next 12 months.

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Stephen Morgan MP says there was little substance to the Queen's speech. Picture: Chris Moorhouse

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The speech itself is not written by the monarch – instead being put together by government ministers, outlining proposed new laws and objectives. It is then read out from the throne situated inside the House of Lords.

Following the speech, politicians and charity bosses have been critical about the lack of detail regarding rapid inflation increases, soaring household bills and stagnant wages.

Labour MP for Portsmouth South, Stephen Morgan, said: ‘This was a wasted opportunity – the first line of the Queen’s speech should have included the introduction of an emergency budget to tackle the cost of living crisis Portsmouth and the rest of the country are facing. Instead, it was scarcely mentioned at all.

Penny Mordaunt MP has faith in the Queen's speech

‘Nothing to tackle the cost of the weekly shop, energy bills or the price at the pump. Ministers even decided it was better to chuck its Employment Bill in the bin, rather than help to secure good jobs.

‘The speech smacks of a government and prime minister that is out of ideas – after 12 years of low growth, high inflation and spiralling taxes, Labour’s plan would once again prioritise world-class public services, bring down NHS waiting times, tackle crime and ensure the best education for our children.’

Councillor Gerald Vernon-Jackson welcomed proposed powers for ports to refuse ferry services that do not pay crews the minimum wage but said policies announced on Tuesday needed to go further.

'It's an enormously badly missed opportunity,' he said. 'We have got inflation up to ten per cent, rising fuel prices and yet there was nothing to address it.

'I don't understand why they are not doing anything to make things easier for families who are really struggling.

'There's a good opportunity to introduce a windfall tax on companies that are making enormous profits and I think a reduction in VAT would also have helped.

'Families, particularly those on lower incomes, really need more help from the government and we've just not seen that.'

His comments have been echoed by Cllr George Fielding, the leader of the city council's Labour group, who said the policies were 'a failure'.

'We needed a Queen's Speech that would tackle the cost of living crisis in Portsmouth, with an emergency budget including a windfall tax to get money off people's bills,' he said. 'And we needed a real plan for growth to get our economy firing on all cylinders, with a climate investment pledge and a commitment to buy, make and sell more in Britain.

'We should have seen a fundamental rethink of our economic settlement, with real power handed to communities and a relentless focus on bringing good jobs back to places that have seen them lost in managed decline.

'Instead, a failure to tackle the cost of living crisis and low growth in the Queen’s Speech marks a major economic failure by the Conservatives and huge disappointment for people across our city.'

Charity bosses have also been critical of the Queen’s speech, accusing government ministers of ‘burying their heads in the sand.’

Dan Paskins, director of UK impact at Save the Children, said: ‘The cost-of-living crisis is an emergency the UK government should be dealing with right now.

‘The Queen’s Speech was a major opportunity to support those most affected by rising costs and the government didn’t take it.

‘Families we work with are skipping meals, rationing their power and taking on unsustainable levels of debt.

‘But again, instead of taking serious action, ministers have buried their heads in the sand.’

Alison Garnham, chief executive of the Child Poverty Action Group, added: ‘Government offered no short-term comfort for parents struggling to feed their kids in the face of rocketing prices, and no long-term vision for ending child poverty.’

But Conservative politicians have called for patience and believe that economic growth will alleviate the problems faced by millions of households.

The government highlighted a previously announced £22bn package to help people with energy bills, tax cuts and other measures.

Portsmouth North MP, Penny Mordaunt, said: ‘The Queen's speech focussed on growing the economy.

‘That will help deal with the serious priorities such as the cost of living and inflation.

‘The speech is about legislation, and some new bills will help including a trade a bill which I will take through parliament, but there are other measures from government and local initiatives- such as my pantry schemes - that will also provide interim help.’

Gosport MP Caroline Dinenage added: ‘Understandably, people are concerned about the cost of living and I was pleased to see measures in the Queen's speech to address this.

‘We must continue to boost economic growth by levelling up education, employment opportunities and housing standards across the UK whilst protecting people from spiralling energy costs.’