THURROCK MP Jackie Doyle Price rose on the floor of the House of Commons to react to the Queen’s speech.
Ms Doyle-Price said:
It will not surprise you, Madam Deputy Speaker, to hear that I will be taking a rather more positive outlook on the Queen’s Speech than the one we have just heard from Deidre Brock. After the difficult events of last year, of course it should be true that across the House we all want to guarantee a brighter future for everyone. We must think particularly about the children—and about the university students, for that matter—who have had massive disruption to their schooling, not only because the pandemic has damaged their education and potentially their life chances but because they are going to be paying much higher taxes for the rest of their lives to deal with the consequences of it.
I want to reflect on the speech by my hon. Friend Harriett Baldwin. She is absolutely right to say that we can spend only the money that we collect from taxpayers, whether it is the taxpayers of today or the taxpayers of tomorrow. There is a risk, if confidence in our economy falls, that there will be consequences for the markets. We all need to be conscious of that, particularly when, in the wake of the pandemic, it is very easy for us to ask the Government for more money for this and for that. It is not without consequence, and I think we have to be very careful. I want to make a plea not just for the taxpayers today and tomorrow, but for everyone, because if we end up in the situation that my hon. Friend described, interest rates can only go one way, everyone will feel impoverished, everyone with a mortgage, and we really need to be careful about that. It is a number of decades since we have had that experience in this country, but that does not mean it will never return. We must always be vigilant about protecting our money and having a sensible monetary and fiscal policy.
It is also fair to say that the quality of our public services should not be measured by what we spend on them; it should be measured by what they actually deliver. I have huge confidence in all our public services and all the workers in them. They are as determined as we all are to get us out of the position that we are in, and I am sure that there will be great amounts of innovation, imagination and leadership to get us back to a new normal.
It is also worth saying that the impact of the pandemic has not been borne equally, and our focus on building back better must be inclusive. It needs to be fair to all generations and all communities. We need to govern as one nation where everyone has a stake. I have to say, having been an MP for 11 years, that I am now happier than ever that we are doing just that. There are communities out there who thought that the political classes were not speaking for them. My right hon. Friend Sir Edward Leigh referred to the issue of immigration as having influenced Brexit, but that was just one issue. There was a general feeling among the public that all politicians really were not talking about the world they lived in.
We know that we live in the greatest country in the world, but every time we switch on the news, we hear how terrible everything is. That is neither true nor what people want to hear. Communities do not want to be told they are being left behind. Our citizens are proud of the communities they live in. They do not want to be talked down to. They want hope, they want to be able to realise their ambitions and they want their communities to be the best they can be, but they want to lead that. They do not want to just take what has been given to them and be grateful. They want to be assured that their Government are working for them, and that is why I am so pleased with this Queen’s Speech, because those communities will be very pleased to see the investment that is being delivered by this Government.
In Thurrock, we are hugely excited to be delivering the Thames freeport. Tilbury, in my constituency, is the poorest of the 100 poorest towns in this country. I am proud that it is a one nation Conservative Government who are showing their confidence in Tilbury through the freeport and through the towns fund. It has been a long time coming. After years of neglect from a Labour Government and a Labour council, I am proud that it is a Conservative Government and a Conservative council that are investing in Tilbury and making sure that we realise that ambition. Generally, it feels very much that the Labour party has historically neglected its core voters in its traditional communities, taking the view that those voters would have nowhere else to go. Well, they do, and the results of the last week prove that they are now voting Conservative because we are giving them hope, and we are talking about the things that matter to them.
Turning again to how we build a better future for all our young people, we absolutely must grip this issue of building more homes. I know that will not be welcomed by everybody on these Benches, but this is something where we must show responsibility and leadership, because for too many young people the ambition of owning their own home seems to be a pipe dream. We need to properly invest, with imagination, in the ability to deliver housing solutions, to which they can then respond.
I really welcome the strategy on tackling violence against women and girls. We have had a moment of revelation in this House about the issues women face today, although it was not a revelation to women Members of this House. We must make sure that we are able to take action that enables women to feel empowered and not threatened as they go about their lives.
Similarly, I welcome the online safety Bill. It is fair to say that the legislative environment has not kept pace with the development of social media and the internet, which has become weaponised as a tool for abuse and bad behaviour. Sadly, that abuse and bad behaviour are now spilling out into the real world. We must take advantage of that Bill.
In the short time left available to me, I wish to mention one of the things the Chancellor of the Exchequer said in approaching this pandemic, which was that the NHS would have all the money it needed to deal with it. Largely, that has been true—in fact, in some respects it has had too much; Track and Trace has a huge budget for perhaps not being as effective as we would like it to be. I just want again to give a shout out for our pharmacists, who stepped up to the plate during this pandemic. They were open when GPs were not. But we know that the financial costs of that are leading a third of them to face potential closure. I do not think we can afford to lose that valuable part of our NHS and I hope the Government do something to address it.