Queen's Speech promises new laws 'for working people'

An EU referendum, tax cuts and more powers for Scotland are among the measures unveiled in the first Conservative-only Queen's Speech in nearly two decades.

Prime Minister David Cameron said the "One Nation" package was a "clear programme for working people, social justice and bringing our country together".

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Greens criticise 'lack of action' on climate change

The Green Party's only MP, Caroline Lucas, has criticised the Conservative government's Queen's Speech for missing an "historic opportunity" to take action on climate change.

The Tories pledged to work with other countries on a new global deal at international discussions in Paris in December - but Ms Lucas said that was not enough.

The evidence in favour of urgent action could not be clearer, yet the Government is set to sit idly by and miss this historic opportunity to be a world leader in facing up to the climate crisis.

Credible solutions to tackle climate change and rebuild our economy exist, but the lack of environmental policy in this Queen's Speech shows that the Government is failing in its responsibility to future generations.

If the Government is serious about playing a leading role in the climate talks in Paris later this year then it must do more than offer warm words on climate change. Ministers must shelve plans for fracking and take action to invest in a renewable energy system fit for the 21st century.

– Caroline Lucas MP

Liberty welcomes 'pause for thought' on human rights

The director of human rights group Liberty has welcomed a decision not to include plans to scrap the Human Rights Act in the Queen's Speech.

While the Conservative government used the speech to propose a British Bill of Rights, which had been expected to be a substitute for the act, the Human Rights Act was not specifically mentioned.

It is heartening that a Conservative government committed to scrapping the Human Rights Act has at least paused for thought in its first Queen's Speech.

There is a long struggle ahead but time is the friend of freedom.

The more this new Parliament understands the value of the Human Rights Act for all of us in this United Kingdom and our reputation in the world, the more it is likely to understand how dangerous it would be to replace human rights with mere citizens' privileges.

– Shami Chakrabarti, Liberty

Union outrage over Cameron's new strike proposals

Credit: PA

Unions have reacted with outrage to David Cameron's reform of strike laws which will prevent them action going ahead unless 40 per cent of workers agree.

Manuel Cortes, leader of the TSSA rail union, said: "It is extraordinary that after more than 100 years of first past the post in public democratic elections in the UK, David Cameron wants to be the first Prime Minister who wants to use a handicapping system solely for union strike ballots.

"Under the new rules, he would not have been elected leader of the Tory party and 270 Tory MPs would have failed to be elected in the general election."

Unite general secretary, Len McCluskey added: "Given the profound challenges facing this nation, it is staggering that a priority for this government is not to create decent jobs and offer a helping hand to insecure workers but to attack trade unions.

"Seven million UK workers and their families turn to their unions for help.

"We urge this government to think again. People will not be fooled by claims to be the party of working people, if freedoms and democracy are swept away in a tide of repressive laws and showy PR."

Queen's speech draws praise, anger and concern

The Queen's Speech did not go down well with everyone. Credit: PA

The first all-Conservative Queen's Speech for two decades drew praise, anger and concern.

While much of the reaction will focus on the future of the UK's membership of the European Union, human rights and immigration, there were differing responses to issues closer to home.

Unions pledged to fight plans to introduce a threshold in strike ballots, while business leaders welcomed measures to increase the number of jobs and apprenticeships.

Christine Blower, general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, said: "This is a Queen's Speech which entrenches inequality.

"Visits to food banks will increase as benefit cuts bite, the sale of housing association stock will not address the housing crisis and more families will be uprooted due to the bedroom tax."

While Jon Sparkes, chief executive of Crisis, said: "The Government's plan to cut housing benefit for 18-21 year-olds could spell disaster for thousands of young people who cannot live with their parents.

"At an age when other young people are leaving home to travel, work or study, growing numbers could be facing homelessness and the terrifying prospect of roughing it on the streets."


PM: Queen's Speech reveals 'One Nation' plan for UK

Prime Minister David Cameron said his Queen's Speech was designed to promote a 'One Nation' programme to help people in Britain at "every stage of life".

Among the measures announced was increased free childcare, a "seven-day NHS" and economic recovery.

We have a golden opportunity to renew the idea that working people are backed in this country; to renew the promise to those least fortunate that they will have the opportunity for a brighter future; and to renew the ties that bind every part of our United Kingdom.

– David Cameron
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