Following a quite extraordinary general election campaign, I’m delighted with the Queen’s Speech and here are my thoughts on how I feel Norwich and Broadland will benefit from new legislation planned this year.
First of all, it is pleasing to see our commitment to the NHS confirmed and we will see further investment into our health care system - investment made through taxation, and not privatisation as inferred by the opposition in the election campaign. As a member of the Norfolk Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee, I am particularly pleased that this investment is taking place - and especially the overhaul of the Mental Health Act and prioritisation of mental health care. Issues with the Norfolk and Suffolk Mental Health Trust have been widely reported in the news and after a fundamental re-organisation, it is pleasing to learn that more funding should be coming our way.
I’m also pleased to learn that technical education will be transformed and that a commitment to a good school education for every child is top of the agenda. During the election campaign, there was much criticism levelled at our party for not looking after public services, including education, and I feel this Queen’s Speech addresses many of those concerns. Our universities provide a wide range of courses accessible to more young people and mature students than ever before - but a university education is not the “be all and end all” and I am really glad this Government is taking technical education seriously. As Britain leaves the European Union, it is right and proper that we should invest in skills internally and not rely on imported skilled labour to support our businesses and the economy.
The Government will introduce measures to tackle unfair practices in energy markets, which as we know affect those who can least afford high tariffs. Fuel poverty is a real issue and can lead to ill health - both physically and mentally. Combined with increases to the National Living Wage, building more homes people can afford and reducing car insurance premiums, this Queens Speech should make a real positive change to younger people.
There are exciting times ahead as we progress our exit from the European Union and I hope that we can all embrace the opportunities that lie ahead. I hope political parties in Parliament can set aside some of the differences that were necessarily emphasised during the election campaign and work together, especially when it comes to legislation intended to tackle extremism of all kinds and the reform of digital security and social media. Being “terror ready” is important not just for cities, but also for largely rural communities like Norfolk.