Mixed reaction to Queen’s speech

CEH270516_Page_25_Image_0003THE ANNUAL Queen’s Speech has come in for praise and criticism in equal measure from the two main opposition parties in Wales.

Perhaps unsurprisingly the leader of the Welsh Conservatives Andrew RT Davies claimed that the speech was a ‘One Nation Queens’s Speech from a One Nation Conservative Government.’

“With the UK economy strengthening, this was a clear sign that Conservatives in government are now able to switch focus on to an ambitious programme to deliver for hardworking people,” he added.

“It is now vital that the Welsh Government takes similar steps to ensure that Welsh families and businesses share in the rising prosperity.

“In particular, the UK Government has announced plans for the dramatic devolution of power to local areas and I would welcome any adoption of the localism agenda here in Wales. So too reform of the planning system, which in England is set to help the government to build more homes.

“Finally, the UK Government has take n a dynamic and decisive approach to ensuring that the UK becomes a world leader in the digital economy with new obligations placed on broadband providers to make sure that everyone has access to an affordable high speed internet connection.”

Commenting on the inclusion of the Wales Bill in today’s Queen’s Speech, he added:

“I welcome the news that the UK Government will continue to work in co-operation with the Welsh Government, building on the work of the former Secretary of State’s efforts to secure a strong and lasting devolution settlement in Wales.

“When the former Secretary of State pressed the pause button on the process it allowed all interested parties an opportunity to reflect on the type devolution that they want to see, but we must now get on with the job.

“The public will not thank politicians for spending the next four years navel-gazing over constitutional issues. It is vital that the Welsh Government and opposition parties engage positively and constructively with the new Secretary of State to take the Wales Bill forward.”

However, this view was not shared by senior Plaid Cymru politicians, with Jonathan Edwards MP describing the speech as a ‘smokescreen for more cuts’ and claiming that the UK Government ‘has decided to appease its own divided backbenches rather than focus on generating economic growth and prosperity.’

The Carmarthen East and Dinefwr MP welcomed the commitment to provide high speed internet but questioned whether residents would be forced to pay for infrastructure upgrades.

Mr Edwards said: “A Universal Service Obligation for high speed broadband – similar to that of Royal Mail – is a welcome first step to provide good internet access to rural Wales. This is a measure I have long supported.

“The details of this proposal are very thin and I fear the UK Government will expect communities to dip into their own pockets to help build the necessary infrastructure. I will, of course, keep a close eye on how the legislation develops.

“Other than that one welcome measure almost all of the 30 government announcements are rehashed, highlighting the political pressure currently on the Prime Minister as he tries to prevent Tory civil war over the European referendum.

“Rather than focussing on generating genuine economic growth and prosperity across the UK, the Tories have decided instead to appease their own divided backbenches with right-wing policies to create US-style giant prisons and watering down our Human Rights.

“The rhetoric of ‘social reform’ is merely another smokescreen to distract from the cuts that continue to tear apart our public services.

“Plaid Cymru has put forward its alternative Queen’s Speech which includes comprehensive measures to make Wales a stronger, safer and more prosperous country, upgrading our road and rail infrastructure, protecting our funding and allowing the Welsh police forces to focus on Welsh priorities.

From the government, however, we got one vague sentence on a Wales Bill that has already been announced.”

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Dayne Stone

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