Queen’s Speech: Doncaster MPs react as Labour say help with cost of living and new town hospital should be priority

Politicians have reacted to the Queen’s Speech with one Doncaster MP saying the government’s ‘levelling up’ ambitions can be showcased in a new hospital for the borough.

By George Torr, Local Democracy Reporter
Tuesday, 10th May 2022, 6:22 pm

The address, which takes place in the House of Lords, provides ministers with an opportunity to showcase its main aims for the near future.

It forms part of the State Opening of Parliament ceremony, which marks the start of the parliamentary year.

For the first time since 1963, the Queen did not attend this year’s state opening due to ‘mobility problems’. Her place was taken instead by Prince Charles who was flanked by Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge.

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LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 10: Prince Charles, Prince of Wales reads the Queen's speech next to her Imperial State Crown in the House of Lords Chamber, during the State Opening of Parliament in the House of Lords at the Palace of Westminster on May 10, 2022 in London, England. The State Opening of Parliament formally marks the beginning of the new session of Parliament. It includes Queen's Speech, prepared for her to read from the throne, by her government outlining its plans for new laws being brought forward in the coming parliamentary year. This year the speech will be read by the Prince of Wales as HM The Queen will miss the event due to ongoing mobility issues. (Photo by Alastair Grant - WPA Pool/Getty Images)

This year’s speech contained 38 bills, touching on areas like energy security, carbon emissions and post-Brexit economic arrangements.

The majority of the legislative agenda was focussed on growing the economy and helping with the cost of living crisis but Labour MPs in South Yorkshire said the government did not go far enough to help struggling families and pensioners.

The government will also commit to stronger penalties for protest groups, like Insulate Britain and Extinction Rebellion, who use disruptive tactics such as blocking roads.

Other areas include overhauling mental health services and tackling the hospital backlog brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Doncaster MPs Nick Fletcher, Dame Rosie Winterton and Ed Miliband.

Levelling Up the UK was another main theme of the speech but the 144-page document did not mention South Yorkshire or any of the four main areas specifically.

Doncaster Central MP Dame Rosie Winterton said: “The test of the Queen’s Speech will be whether it delivers answers to the cost of living crisis faced by my constituents. It must reduce the inequalities between the north and the south.

“Of course, we have to have that new hospital as a matter of urgency.”

Conservative Don Valley MP Nick Fletcher was more upbeat about the speech.

He said: “I’m really pleased with this Queen’s Speech, especially the Education Bill that will ensure the growth of multi academy trusts, a fairer funding platform for our schools ending the postcode lottery, protecting freedom of speech in universities and safeguards for children educated at home.

“Education for our children is key to the future of Doncaster as we continue to build a strong local economy with new jobs, new money and new businesses coming to our town.”

But Doncaster North MP Ed Miliband, said: “For all the families in Doncaster facing the catastrophe of the cost of living crisis, the government’s legislative programme has no answer at all.

“They refuse a windfall tax on oil and gas companies making record profits to help tackle the energy bills crisis and fail to protect families with measures on energy efficiency and a clean energy sprint.

“This programme tells you all you need to know about where the government stands: out of ideas, out of answers and out of touch with the needs of people in Doncaster.”

Labour Sheffield Heeley MP Louise Haigh, added: “The State opening of Parliament and the Queen’s Speech was the government’s opportunity to show the public that they were on their side and ready and prepared to stand up and support those who need it most. They failed in this mission miserably.

“They chose to do nothing that would help pensioners, the most vulnerable and businesses with the cost-of-living crisis.

“There are a number of actions the government could have taken that would have eased the burden and support people who need help now.

“Labour has a plan for an emergency budget that would put a windfall tax on oil and gas producers, scrap the National Insurance rise, provide support for struggling businesses and invest in insulating homes.

“This speech shows that the government has no plan and no intention to stand on the side of people who need it.”