Gary's News and views

Gary Streeter MP for South West Devon

Gary writes a weekly article which appears in the Plympton Plymstock and Ivybridge News in South West Devon. The articles are published here.


Thursday, 9 May 2013


So here we go again, another session of legislation kicked off by the glorious pomp and pageantry that is the State Opening of Parliament.

With our five year fixed term Parliaments now written into concrete, with general elections scheduled for May each time, the political calendar is shifting. Our year used to begin in the autumn, but now it is firmly anchored into the beginning of May. The new session began this week with the Queen's Speech, a programme for the year written and prepared by the government, but set out in public by our much-loved Monarch.

I would have been very happy if Her Majesty had opened the speech and simply announce: my government is not going to pass any new laws this year, but concentrate on implementing well the measures it has already introduced.

It would have caused Fleet Street to splutter, but might well have been in the national interest. The last three years have been surprisingly radical for a coalition government, with major reforms in health, education and welfare. But there is a limit to the amount of turmoil people can take. What we need is a period of calm to bed these changes in and make sure that they work fairly and effectively on the ground.

We also need ministers to focus on making existing policy work rather that guiding new measures through the House. By far the most important challenge for government is to guide the country out of the appalling financial mess in which we still find ourselves.

After three years of austerity we are still borrowing £110 billion this year just to pay our bills. We are spending £46 billion a year just in interest payments on our growing pile of debt. Even if everything goes very well, it will not be until 2018 that we reduce our annual deficit to nil. Then we will have racked up a debt mountain of £1.7 trillion and whoever is in government at the time will have to tackle it.

Naturally, there are measures in the programme that I support. Anything that helps create private sector jobs is worthwhile and the changes we are now proposing to make in pensions and social care are important.

But perhaps we have missed an opportunity to do less and do it better. Parliament is not just there to pass new laws but to hold the executive to account on the ones we have already passed.

posted by Gary @ 09:35