Another Monday and along comes another biased and flawed assessment full of bloodcurdling claims about what they think might happen if the UK does the sensible thing and votes to leave the EU on 23rd June.
All the ‘technocratic elite’ (who it often turns out receive funding from the EU) are banding together to say how they think it would be better if the UK stays in. The latest document which was issued yesterday claims the UK would be forced into recession, there would be a sharp rise in unemployment, the pound would fall by up to 15% and house prices would fall by 10%.
Given that the forecasts the Treasury made in the Autumn Statement had already proved to be wrong just a few weeks later by the time of the budget and given the general difficulty with anyone trying to guess what is going to happen in the future one would have thought that these uncertainties would be reflected in the forecast. Instead, instead it is all presented as a virtual certainty.
Fortunately Mr Speaker allowed an Urgent Question which gave MP’s the opportunity to question a Treasury Minister (David Gauke the Financial secretary to the Treasury) about it. the whole exchanges can be read here.
This week sees the last four days of the debate on the Queen’s Speech. I am travelling down to Westminster as there will be important votes on the Queen’s Speech this week. The usual daily question time for individual departments start tomorrow but unfortunately although I entered the ballot I was not successful. As the new session starts it is worth restating that you have to be successful in a random ballot to be listed on the order paper to ask a question.
It has been very good news this week that the negotiations between the NHS employers and the BMA have resulted in terms being agreed to settle the dispute over their new contract.
After 10 days of considering the outstanding issues the parties have now agreed the new contract represents a significant advance on the existing contract, improving safety and helping to deliver more services at weekends.
A new Family Support Plan for Junior Doctors will provide more flexible working and help for those who take time out of training for family reasons.
The new contract will give a pay increase of between 10 and 11% on average with a cap introduced to reduce the maximum number of hours worked.
As had previously been proposed the maximum number of hours worked in a week will reduce from 91 to 72. The maximum number of consecutive nights will reduce from 7 to 4 and the maximum number of consecutive long days will fall from 7 to 5 and doctors will be scheduled to work on consecutive weekends without their agreement.
The whole deal contains much more and I hope the junior doctors vote in favour of the package when it is put to them in a ballot shortly.
The third and final theme of the Bills announced in the Queen’s speech is that of keeping our country safe.
The long awaited so called Bill of Rights will apparently include measures to reform and modernise the UK human rights framework. In reality if the Country votes to stay in the European Union whatever this Bill might claim to do will in my opinion be irrelevant because this Country will still be subject to the Human Rights regime set out by the EU in their own Charter of Fundamental Rights which will be legislated upon by the European Court of Justice.
A Counter-Extremism and Safeguarding Bill will give law enforcement agencies new powers to protect vulnerable people, including children from those who seek to extol extremist propaganda.
The Criminal Finances Bill will include new measures to deal with money laundering and include a new offence which companies will be guilty of if they fail to stop their staff facilitating tax evasion.
Finally, the much discussed Investigatory Powers Bill will continue to be debated and hopefully in this session will at last find its way on to the statute book.
The second of the three themes of the Queen’s Speech is increasing the life chances of the most disadvantaged. The government is proposing reforms to try and tackle some of the biggest social problems in society and remove barriers to opportunity.
There will be a Children and Social Work Bill which will include changing the considerations courts must take account of when deciding on adoptions for children, changing the balance in favour of permanent adoption and a new system of regulating social workers.
The Education for All Bill will include new laws to enable the academies programme to be expanded and a new funding formula to deliver fairer funding for every school and every pupil across the Country.
The Higher Education and Research Bill will make it easier for new Universities to open and require all Universities to publish detailed information about applications, offers and outcomes so it will be easier to assess what they are doing to help social mobility.
There will also be bills to reform prisons giving governors more powers and to expand the National Citizen’s Service.
Yesterday saw Her Majesty the Queen carry out the State Opening of the new session of Parliament. In what I understand was her 63rd Queen’s Speech she formally set out the government’s new programme for the forthcoming session.
There were three main themes: delivering security for working people; increasing life chances for the most disadvantaged and strengthening our national security.
Included in the first of these themes are the Digital Economy Bill – this give every household a legal right to a fast broadband connection, the Modern Transport Bill – this will include legislation covering commercial spaceports and driverless cars, a Neighbourhood Planning and Infrastructure Bill and a Local Growth and Jobs Bill. This last Bill will bring about the biggest change in local finances for several decades. It will give local Councils full control of the money they raise through business rates, so they will have the full benefit attracting new companies and investment into their area.
As we are about to embark on the second session of this Parliament these are the latest figures the website ‘They Work For You’ have for me during the first session:
Debates participated in: 160. Written Questions:131 Votes: 95.82%
Personally, I take all these figures with a pinch of salt. Of course they are based on some evidence and fact but there is more, much more to the role of being a Member of Parliament. Anyway, for those who like statistics there they are.