‘More notable for what was missing’ – Mayor responds to Queen’s Speech

In the Houses of Parliament this afternoon, Elizabeth II delivered the Queen’s Speech outlining the new Government’s agenda for the parliamentary session. 

The speech contained more than 30 bills – pieces of proposed legislation – spanning health, education, defence, technology, transport and crime, as well as Brexit.

Philip Glanville, Mayor of Hackney, responds to the speech:

Philip Glanville, Mayor of Hackney
Today’s speech was more notable for what it was missing rather than what it contained – demonstrating a lack of ambition for a Government that has five years to tackle the increasing poverty and division that so many of Hackney’s residents face.

A great deal of the narrative surrounding last week’s election result has centred on the need to invest more in areas outside London. I fully support that, but it should be a levelling up of Hartlepool, Halifax and Hull, not a levelling down of Hackney.

While 1 in 17 children in Hackney will be homeless this Christmas, the speech did not mention housebuilding once – hinting purely at providing further incentives to prop up the home ownership market rather than boosting the supply of council housing. 

Nor is there anything to end the decade-long attack on the welfare state, such as desperately needed reforms to Local Housing Allowance or Universal Credit. Our #BetterRenting campaign has long campaigned for a fairer deal for Hackney’s 32,000 renters, so the Renters’ Reform Bill must be brought forward without further delay.

Although it is now likely that Brexit will happen on 31 January, it is vital that the Prime Minister rules out a no-deal exit at the end of 2020. Instead, his reckless new legislation makes that more likely. In Hackney, we remain a European borough, and we’ll continue to stand up for the rights of EU nationals, who make up 15% of our residents and are scared about what is to come. We’ll press ministers to ensure their Settled Status scheme is run fairly and efficiently.

That is so vital because Hackney’s Windrush Generation knows from bitter experience how mismanaged Government bureaucracy can destroy lives and tear families apart. We welcome the introduction of legislation to enshrine the Windrush Compensation Scheme in law, and will continue to scrutinise its implementation, demanding legal aid is available.

As we have repeatedly said, the Government’s environmental legislation must – at the very least – cement existing EU rules into UK law. It is vital that the Environment Bill also devolves further powers and funding to local authorities like Hackney to enable all levels of government to take the radical action needed to respond to the climate emergency. Instead, it currently maintains an unacceptable 2050 target for net-zero carbon emissions – despite the science – and our residents – being clear that we must do more now to prevent a global catastrophe. 

The Prime Minister has made clear promises of investment in the NHS, police and infrastructure across the country, which we welcome. But new spending solves nothing by itself – and doesn’t reverse nine years of austerity. The challenge now is for ministers to set out a clear plan for how this investment will benefit those in desperate need and whether it will mean a true end to austerity for local authorities supporting them on the frontline.”
Philip Glanville, Mayor of Hackney