Ahead of the State Opening of the UK Parliament, the SNP has set out our progressive alternative to a ‘business as usual’ continuation of the Tory government’s failed austerity project.
At a time when the UK Government should be doing everything it can to reverse the fortunes of the UK’s flailing economy, it is instead consumed with bitter infighting and divisions within the Tory party over Europe.
And with the Labour Party stuck in a rut, unable to unify or to decide what it stands for, and with its MPs busy arguing amongst themselves, it is the SNP that is providing a clear, consistent and effective opposition to the Tories.
Our Alternative Queen’s Speech calls for policies to deliver a fairer, more prosperous and more equal country.
Here’s our alternative legislative agenda:
The Alternative Queen’s Speech
An emergency Summer Budget, putting an end to Tory austerity by increasing spending by 0.5 per cent a year between 2016-17 and 2019-20, and releasing over £150 billion for investment in public services, while ensuring that public sector debt and borrowing fall.
A Fair Tax Bill, simplifying the UK tax system, clamping down on tax avoidance and evasion, and putting in place a moratorium on the Tory government’s HMRC office closures.
An Energy Security and Investment Bill, implementing a comprehensive strategic review of tax rates and investment allowances in the North Sea oil and gas sector, ending the UK government’s commitment to the Hinkley C project, and directing investment towards renewables and carbon capture and storage.
A Scottish Home Rule Bill, providing the meaningful devolution of powers that current and former Westminster party leaders promised Scotland during the independence referendum.
A Parliamentary Reform Bill, delivering the long overdue reform to Westminster of abolishing the House of Lords; the SNP would also signal its wider intention to abolish English Votes for English Laws; introduce electronic voting in Parliament; create a House Business Committee to enhance the role of Parliament in scrutinising government, and commission a report on maternity leave and job share arrangements for MPs.
An Electoral Reform Bill, lowering the voting age to 16 and establishing an independent commission on proportional representation to report on possible models for Westminster.
Justice and Home Affairs
A Migration Bill, to ensure the UK maximises the benefits of migration with the production of a migration strategy; reintroduction of the Post-Study Work Visa; reversing cuts to support for asylum seekers and adopting a strategy to provide integration opportunities from day one.
A Human Rights and Equalities Bill, protecting human rights and enhancing equality law; modernising the Equality Act to strengthen the rights and liberties of citizens across the UK and protections against discrimination; and affirming and protecting the role of the European Convention on Human Rights in the UK.
An Access to Justice Bill, ensuring justice is no longer unaffordable and removing barriers to access by restoring appeal rights in areas where they have been undermined and removed.
Social justice and Welfare
A Social Equality Bill, strengthening social security entitlements by restoring work allowances for low income workers and single parents across the UK, pending devolution of social security powers to Scotland; ending maternity discrimination; introducing further shared paternity rights for individuals and employers; addressing the barriers to employment and access to financial support for disabled people.
A Universal Pensions Bill, developing a more progressive pensions system by establishing an independent Pensions Commission to investigate the inequalities in current and future proposed pension policies; funding transitional arrangements for WASPI women; developing access to automatic enrolment and incentivising pension saving.
A Funeral Poverty Bill, making funeral costs more affordable by introducing new regulation of the Funeral Industry.
Defence and Foreign Affairs
Nuclear Weapons Consent Bill, requiring the UK government to seek the consent of the Scottish Parliament for the Trident nuclear weapons system to be based in Scotland, with the expectation that this would lead to the removal of Trident from Scotland.