Queen’s Speech risks adding more pressure onto Government, new report warns

The Queen’s Speech may help the PM demonstrate momentum, but a new paper by the Institute for Government warns that the Government is already under intense pressure and must focus on delivering existing commitments.

Government under pressure: the 2016 Queen’s Speech examines stresses on the NHS, justice system, schools, and Whitehall itself. The paper argues that if the Government wants to be effective, it must prioritise future legislation carefully and improve its handling of Parliament.

The Government has set an ambitious agenda, such as delivering a seven-day NHS, while ruling out raising taxes and promising to balance the books. But in its first year, it has suffered three defeats in the Commons and more than 50 in the Lords, while facing divisions caused by the forthcoming EU referendum.

The paper makes recommendations to government on the importance of building a coalition of support both inside and outside Parliament before introducing legislation.  

Daniel Thornton, report author and IfG Programme Director, said:

“To be effective, the Government must recognise the enormous challenges it now faces. It is making big spending cuts and attempting far-reaching public service reforms, and the strain is showing. As a result of divisions over Europe, its small majority has become no majority at all. It must consult and build alliances before rushing ahead with more ambitious reforms in the Queen’s Speech.”

While issues such as anti-terrorism legislation will hit the headlines, it is the combination of spending cuts and ambitious public service reforms that create the backdrop to the Queen’s Speech. 

On the NHS, the paper warns that cuts in public health and social care are creating unsustainable pressures. In the justice system, the paper welcomes the proposed draft legislation on prisons but warns that reforms in other areas – such as digitising courts – are challenging when combined with big spending cuts.

The handling of the academisation of schools is an example of the risks of making policy without building the support of its own backbenchers. The Government needs to learn from this if it is to meet the objectives it set out only one year ago.

Notes to editors

  1. The ‘Government under pressure’ paper can be found here (from 00.01): http://www.instituteforgovernment.org.uk/publications/government-under-pressure
  2. The Institute for Government is an independent think tank that works to make government more effective.
  3. For more information, please contact nicole@instituteforgovernment.org.uk / 07850313791.