West Cumbrian MP Jamie Reed has responded to the Queen’s Speech, warning that “Government has failed to understand West Cumbria”.
The speech delivered by the Queen, which is the centrepiece of the State Opening of Parliament, set out the Government’s legislative agenda for the coming year.
A total of 21 Bills were announced to be brought before Parliament in 2016/17, including measures to support the development of spaceplanes and commercial spaceports, promotion of the development of driverless cars and a tax on sugary soft drinks.
On the NHS, the Government announced that it will continue to work to deliver a 7 day NHS, and that it will take steps to recover the cost of care provided to overseas visitors.
Jamie Reed welcomed the principle of recovering the costs of care provided to overseas visitors. However, he warned that to continue to downplay the invaluable work undertaken by the NHS on a weekend, often under difficult circumstances, is an insult to our dedicated NHS staff.
The Copeland MP explained that under this Government, patients are suffering longer waits with over 3.5 million people on the English waiting list, and that it is harder to see a GP.
Moreover, cuts to older people’s care have put huge pressure on the NHS with delayed discharges from hospitals reaching a record high in recent months. In fact, recent figures showed the worst monthly A&E performance on record with just 87.3% of patients being seen within four hours in A&E departments.
Commenting on the Government’s plans for the NHS over the coming year, Jamie Reed MP said;
“The Government has failed to include in its legislative program any measures to support us here in West Cumbria to overcome the unique challenges that we face, so that we may build the world class local health economy that we are all working to achieve.
“Government has also failed to set out any plans to tackle the financial crisis facing the NHS and Social Care. I continue to work inside and outside of Parliament, calling on Government to provide the Success Regime with the resources it needs to realise the ambitions of our communities”.
The Queen’s Speech also included a commitment from the Government to continue to support the so called Northern Powerhouse. Cumbria has so far been overlooked by the Northern Powerhouse project, with only one reference to Cumbria included in its recent report ‘High Speed North’.
Jamie Reed MP has repeated his calls to Government to provide West Cumbria with the resources and infrastructure needed to realise its potential. He commented;
“Here in West Cumbria we are trying to build a 21st century economy, but are stuck with a 20th century infrastructure.
“It is vital that Government listen to and understand the needs and the potential of West Cumbria.
“Through investment in our infrastructure, in public transport, in the A595, and our digital economy, we can and will become a real Cumbrian Powerhouse”.
The Queen’s Speech also saw the announcement of the introduction of an ‘Education for All’ Bill, which will include measures to move towards an education system where every school is an academy.
Jamie Reed MP has criticised the Government’s stewardship of education, explaining that the Bill represents a humiliating climb-down for Government, who just a few weeks ago set out plans to force every school in England to become an academy. The local MP said;
“Under this Government, school budgets have faced a real term cut for the first time since the mid 1990s, there are teacher shortages, class sizes are increasing and changes to exams and assessments have caused problems in schools across the country.
“In Cumbria, funding per pupil has fallen in each year since 2010 and capital funding has fallen by £60 million despite multiple requests to Government for funding.
“The decision to turn a school into an academy is one which must be taken by school leaders and the local community. It should not be imposed by Government.
“I am clear that, in terms of education, my focus will always be on standards rather than structures. As Copeland’s MP, I have worked and campaigned for local school improvements for eleven years and made it a central part of every personal electoral agenda. I am passionate about the future of every school and academy in our community, and I plan to meet with local Headteachers over the coming months to listen to and represent their concerns in Parliament during the passage of this Bill.”
Copeland MP Jamie Reed said:
“West Cumbria’s best days are ahead of us. Together, we are working locally to realise our vision of becoming a World Centre for Nuclear Excellence, delivering economic growth and new opportunities for local people.
“Collectively, we are making every effort to create a world class health economy, fit for the 21st century, which will overcome the unique challenges that we face in this part of the world.
“Yesterday’s Queen’s speech demonstrated that this Government is running out of steam and that it is is pre-occupied with divisions about the upcoming referendum. Disappointingly, it is clear that Government has failed to understand West Cumbria.”