“Queen’s Speech focused on increasing ‘state intervention,’ not plans to make people freer”
By Mark Littlewood, courtesy of the Institute of Economic Affairs
The Queen’s Speech makes clear the government’s commitment to negotiate and secure free trade agreements with the European Union and the rest of the world.
The plans set out for an NHS Funding Bill do nothing to address the structural problems in the health service which contribute to a lack of patient choice with regards to treatment and care. There was also scant detail on measures to improve social care, arguably the most pressing issue facing the health service. However, an independent body to investigate concerns raised by patients and families will likely improve outcomes and should be welcomed.
Allowing first-time buyers a 30 per cent discount on homes near where they grew up does nothing to solve the UK’s housing crisis and could reduce social mobility by disincentivising young people to move to areas with higher-paying jobs. The government should focus on tackling red tape in the planning system and allowing new homes to be built where there is demand.
The proposed cut in business rates will be welcomed by small businesses across the country but there is more to be done when it comes to simplifying Britain’s over-wrought tax system and relieving the highest tax burden for almost fifty years.
Promised investment in infrastructure should be carefully considered to avoid repeating delayed and over-budget nationally-led projects like HS2. The review into HS2 should consider whether future taxpayer money would be better spent on alternative projects which would deliver more benefit and that can attract private sector investment.
The immigration bill, teased in the previous Queen’s Speech, shows that the government is determined to centrally plan and control the labour market. A visa system which allowed businesses to recruit the staff and skills they need, from across the world, would be more efficient than having Whitehall officials pick winners and losers through an Australian-style visa system.
Overall, the Queen’s Speech focused on state intervention rather than setting out plans to make people freer.
Mark Littlewood is Director General of the Institute of Economic Affairs and the IEA’s Ralph Harris Fellow. Mark also sits on the Board of Big Brother Watch, a non-profit organisation fighting for the protection of privacy and civil liberties in the UK.