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WATCH: In full: Tim Farron on the Queen’s Speech

May 19, 2016 12:16 PM
By Tim Farron MP

Tim Farron 2016Here is Tim Farron's speech in full from the Queen's Speech debate. He cracks some pretty decent jokes, maybe a couple that aren't quite as funny, and sets out what we would have done differently.

He also took time to pay tribute to David Rendel.

The text follows.

Mr Speaker, may I first start by commending the Honourable Member for Meriden and the Honourable Member for Bracknell for the grace and humour with which they moved and seconded the humble address.

These occasions often show the House at its best and its worst and I think we would all agree that their speeches were examples of the former.

And as the Prime Minister did, may I pay tribute to Harry Harpham and Michael Meacher whose contributions here will be missed.

Can I also take this opportunity to remember my former colleague, David Rendel, who died just this week, and whose by-election victory was transformational to the fortunes of our party.

Those of us who knew him will remember his phenomenal hard work and absolute commitment to the people of Newbury that continued long after he ceased to be the Member of Parliament. He will be sadly missed by many of us.


Mr Speaker, may I start by saying I was most excited to learn that the Modern Transport Bill will enable the development of the UK's first commercial spaceports, just like Mos Eisley, the spaceport in Star Wars.

I don't know what inspired the Prime Minister to invest in something that Obi Wan Kenobi said was 'no greater hive of scum and villainy'… But I'm sure it was definitely… probably… nothing to do with the emergence of the Leave Campaign whatsoever.

Or maybe he is just trying to facilitate an easier intergalactic commute for the honourable member for Wokingham (Editor's Note: That's John Redwood to you and me)?
[Or maybe he is just trying to help the honourable member for Uxbridge (Editor's Note: That's Boris to you and me) get home from time to time]


Mr Speaker, despite the opening line of today's speech, there is no strengthening economy.
Economic growth has slowed, construction output has fallen, the CBI has downgraded its forecast, sterling has plummeted, and foreign investment is collapsing.

This is the first time in six years when the Queen's Speech has not mentioned the deficit.

Where has this Government's credibility gone? Where is the long term plan?
The Liberal Democrats helped the Chancellor balance the books, but, the backward steps are entirely of this Government's making - a budget with a £7.5 billion black hole; colossal constraints on public spending, and a referendum born out of Tory self-harm, is threatening our country with economic instability.

Instead of looking at the politically difficult situation immediately in front of them, Ministers should be looking to the future.

What could've been

Now there were some futuristic ideas in today's speech.

But while driverless cars point to the future, a driverless Government does not.

It could have been a speech for the next generation, but it was, sadly, a speech void of vision.

So let me offer the party opposite a vision - a vision for an ambitious, modern, liberal Britain; one that celebrates all of Britain's communities, one that fights for equality of opportunity, and one that delivers future prosperity through world class education, creativity and innovation.

For it is through education that we can give the biggest boost to life chances.

Education sits right at the heart of what Liberal Democrats stand for. It is the key to freedom and opportunity.

We are concerned that the curriculum focusses too much on meeting targets and passing exams, rather than giving children the practical skills, confidence and creativity to meet the challenges of a future economy.

This Government's policies are only making things worse. Teachers are demoralised and school budgets are stretched to breaking point. Children are missing out as subjects like art, music and sport are cut.

Let's use our opportunity here to make a difference, and leave a lasting legacy for future generations.

An Education system, where everyone can aspire to be the best they can be,
An innovative economy, powering us through the 21st century;
A properly funded NHS; social care, and mental health services;
A commitment to desperate people around the world who are begging for our help;
Radical plans to make our country carbon neutral by 2050;
Investment in skills;
An ambitious plan for housing that actually builds homes;
And rather than tinkering with Parliament, let's replace the other place with a fully elected second chamber.

Government on repeat

Governments do tire from time to time. But it's usually takes 12 years, not 12 months.

This programme is positively Blairite, which is probably why the Honourable Member for Islington North dislikes it so much.

I hear that the Leader of the Opposition's response went on for 30 seconds more that the entire length of the Beatles Sergeant Pepper album. Without any interventions, was he afraid of a little help from his friends?
It seems as if this Government is running out of steam, even before we've had chance to fill the kettle.

Of the 30 announcements in this Government's legislative agenda, we've heard 28 of them before.

I'm especially delighted this Government has announced the Cultural Property (Armed Conflict) Bill, which has been waiting to get on the statue books since December 1954.
It would be easy for opposition politicians to stand up and say everything is terrible.

But it's not, so I won't.

I welcome the Better Markets Bill for example, just as I did when Ed Davey announced it two years ago.

And the Criminal Finances Bill, announced by Danny Alexander in February last year.

National Citizens' Service, piloted by the Coalition in 2011.

The Pensions Bill announced by Steve Webb in 2014.

The soft drinks levy from the budget.

And the commitment to build 1 million homes as featured in Last year's Queen's speech.

Just in case we didn't hear it the first time, they needed to be said twice.

It's like a greatest hits album.

And the Prime Minister has my support on much of what he says on boosting education in prisons, adoption, and transparency on mobile phone and broadband speeds.

But sometimes, repeats are tiresome.

The Higher Education Bill was in November's Green Paper, the Education bill has already been a white paper, Broadband was announced last November, and the NHS charges are already happening.

Civil Liberties

And like my own music career, some things should be consigned to history.

The obsession with scrapping the Human Rights Act has now made its third appearance in the Queen's Speech.

The Human Rights Act enshrines fundamental liberties like the right to free speech, protest and assembly and the right to live a life free of torture.

Which of these freedoms do the Conservatives oppose?

The devolved settlements in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland all have the European convention and the Human Rights act hard-wired into them.

This Tory government seems hell bent on unravelling the Union by their actions all for the sake of appeasing their backbenches.

The Government should ditch these ill thought out plans or risk them falling flat on their face when they are introduced in Parliament.

And the Snoopers' Charter refuses to go away.

This should be its final outing, and dropped once and for all.

We all want a Bill that keeps us safe, and keeps the government in check.

But trying to fight terrorism by gathering more and more information is a losing battle.

Access to Facebook messages, medical records or even your child's baby monitor is completely the wrong approach and the Government must reconsider.

Mr Speaker, the Liberal Democrats will take no lessons in Liberalism from a Prime Minister who has tried to bring forward the most intrusive snooping legislation in the western world.

He is no liberal.

And to accuse those who recognise that you cannot legislate away ideas as somehow being complacent or complicit in the challenges we face is outrageous.

The solution to extremism, to radicalisation, is not to be found in more pages of ill considered, ill-informed legislation.

It is found by supporting communities to challenge the agendas which threaten the Liberal freedoms we all value.

Liberal Britain

Mr Speaker, while all front benches in this place can unite on Europe, this Queen's Speech was nothing but a stop-gap to give the warring factions of the Tory party a couple of day's respite from civil war.

My party see June 23rd as an opportunity to cement Britain's position in Europe, as a leader on the world stage; because by remaining in together Britain can thrive.

But it is clear this Prime Minister sees it as a moment he'll be lucky to survive.
This speech did nothing to address the key issues at stake, just re-runs and repeats.

An opportunity to put forward a radical, new, invigorating, innovative, creative and ambitious programme for Government has been miss