Queen’s Speech focused on increasing “Government intervention”, ignoring role of markets
By Mark Littlewood, Director, courtesy of IEA
The Government’s commitment to preserve free trade with the European Union and expand free trade with the rest of the world remain a welcome pledge, as emphasised throughout Conservative Party Conference and again in the Queen’s Speech today.
But the Queen’s Speech also highlighted some worrying interventions planned by this Government, which would place too much emphasis on the role of the state, and not enough of the role of free markets.
The immigration bill, teased today, hints that government is still determined to centrally plan and control the labour market. State bureaucrats dishing out arbitrary points through an Australian-style visa system is less preferable, and less efficient, than a visa system designed to empower businesses to recruit the people with skill sets they need, from the UK, the EU and beyond.
And while the plan to create an independent body to investigate serious health incidents could prove a helpful instrument to make the health service more accountable, the Government remains woefully silent about the lack of choice patients have over their treatment and care. Increasing patient choice between competing healthcare providers remains the strongest way to drive up outcomes for all.
The Queen’s Speech rightly promised to press ahead with overdue reforms to social care, but the pledge to produce a national infrastructure strategy seems a step too far, as delayed and over-budget projects like HS2 should be reviewed and challenged before more taxpayer money is committed to a range of other schemes.
Essentially all of today’s Queen Speech focused on where the Government can further intervene, rather than where the state can roll back its initiatives or reduce our tax bill. While many of the domestic policy issues neglected over the past three years must be addressed and tackled post-Brexit, the solutions are more likely to lie with market-based propositions than with heavy-handed state intervention.
Mark Littlewood is Director General at the Institute of Economic Affairs.