Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 16 April 2014

Union leader blasts Queen's Speech

Len McCluskey said the Queen's Speech 'is more about trying to head off Ukip' than delivering a legislative programme to get Britain back on track

Unions have attacked the Queen's Speech for lacking new measures to help boost the economy and create new jobs, saying more important announcements will be made in next month's spending review.

Unite general secretary Len McCluskey said: "The Queen's Speech is more about trying to head off Ukip and quell a backbench revolt than deliver a legislative programme to get Britain back on track. David Cameron's true intentions will be revealed in the Comprehensive Spending Review in June which is likely to continue this Government's austerity addiction.

"With the coalition entering its fourth year, we can now see what its legacy will be - a failing economy, the ruination of rights at work and a nation encouraged to scapegoat the vulnerable for the failings of the political and business elite. Dragging our country to the unquenchable right may appease Tory backbenchers but it means pain for everyone else."

Unison general secretary Dave Prentis said: "It's a typical Tory tactic to distract attention from the real problems we face by fostering a 'blame immigrants' culture, instead of tackling the huge divide between the rich and the poor. This Government should face facts and accept that its policies are not working for the majority of people."

Public and Commercial Services union general secretary Mark Serwotka said: "Instead of scapegoating migrants, and forcing people to work longer before being entitled to a state pension, the Government should invest to create jobs and opportunities, and target the tax- dodgers who deprive our economy of tens of billions of pounds a year."

Terry Scuoler, chief executive of EEF, the manufacturers' organisation said: "Industry will welcome a Queen's Speech that is lighter on legislation and denser on delivery. Making progress in key areas such as energy, apprenticeships, pensions and key infrastructure projects such as HS2 is vital for growth.

"The new growth requirements on regulatory authorities and the Pensions Regulator are a helpful move and should signal a shift to a 'growth first' mindset right across government. The challenge for government is to speed up the pace on delivery and to give British businesses a better chance of securing contracts on key infrastructure projects."

The Federation of Small Businesses said it welcomed the focus on a stronger economy and measures to help small businesses to create jobs, with a spokesman saying: "The measures announced today must go hand in hand with ongoing work to develop the Government's Business Bank and a drive to help small firms access finance."

Matthew Sinclair, chief executive of the TaxPayers' Alliance, said: "It is great news that the Government has shelved plans for some of the cumbersome new regulations and expensive spending commitments that were rumoured before this Queen's Speech. Sadly they are still planning enormous increases in the amount of money taken from British families and spent on often wasteful and corrupt foreign aid projects, but at least they are not writing that mistake in law."

Business Secretary Vince Cable rejected suggestions that the Queen's Speech was "thin". Mr Cable told BBC Radio 4's World at One: "There are some really major bills here which will change the landscape for parliaments to come. The changes to social care, which we have been debating for years in Parliament, is there. I think and hope it will have cross-party support and it will make a major difference to people faced with long-term care bills."

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