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5 Things Missing From Boris Johnson's Queen's Speech

·Political correspondent, HuffPost UK
·5-min read
(Photo: STEFAN ROUSSEAU via Getty Images)
(Photo: STEFAN ROUSSEAU via Getty Images)

Boris Johnson has set out his programme for government in the latest Queen’s Speech.

Plans for force people to produce ID to vote and new legislation to rip up planning regulations are being met with heavy criticism across the political spectrum.

But the Conservatives also stand accused of breaking promises as the prime minister has failed to take action on social care, employment rights and gay conversion therapy.

Here are the glaring omissions from his Queen’s Speech.

No outright ban on gay conversion therapy

Equalities Secretary Liz Truss  (Photo: Dominic Lipinski - PA Images via Getty Images)
Equalities Secretary Liz Truss (Photo: Dominic Lipinski - PA Images via Getty Images)

Hopes had been high that Johnson would set in stone an unequivocal ban on what it calls the “abhorrent practice” of gay conversion therapy.

But despite promises the government failed to commit to a new law, or set out a timetable for one, and has merely offered a consultation on the issue.

Health organisations and patient groups signed a document in 2017 warning all forms of conversion therapy were “unethical and potentially harmful”.

But the PM’s consultation sees the government take a cautious approach and states that any ban must also ensure medical professionals, religious leaders, teachers and parents can have “open and honest conversations”.

Nancy Kelley, chief executive at Stonewall, welcomed the proposals, but added: “We don’t need a consultation to know that all practices that seek to convert, suppress, cure or change us are dangerous, abusive and must be banned.

“Lesbian, gay, bi, trans, intersex and ace communities have been waiting almost three years for the UK government to follow through on their promise to ban all conversion practices, and any delay leaves us at further risk of abuse.”

No block on ‘fire and rehire’

Frances O'Grady, General Secretary of the TUC speaking at the TUC's Congress in London. (Photo by Stefan Rousseau/PA Images via Getty Images) (Photo: Stefan Rousseau - PA Images via Getty Images)
Frances O'Grady, General Secretary of the TUC speaking at the TUC's Congress in London. (Photo by Stefan Rousseau/PA Images via Getty Images) (Photo: Stefan Rousseau - PA Images via Getty Images)

The prime minister had pledged new laws to protect workers’ rights in the wake of Brexit but unions are now accusing him of “rowing back” on his promises.

No employment bill has been brought forward in the Queen’s Speech and it could mean civil servants, who have been at the frontline during the Covid crisis, do not get a pay rise.

The TUC says Johnson has also failed to tackle the growing “fire and rehire” culture, where firms make staff redundant and then employ them again on worse terms and conditions.

“We need action now to deal with the scourge of insecure work, not more dithering and delay,” said general secretary Frances O’Grady.

“Zero-hours contracts and other exploitative working practices like fire and rehire must be banned once and for all.”

Helen Barnard, director of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, said she was “deeply concerned”.

No protection for Northern Ireland veterans

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The Queen’s Speech does not include legislation to protect armed forces veterans of the Northern Ireland Troubles.

The issue has provoked anger from both sides of the sectarian divide in Ulster after reports Johnson wanted to scrap criminal trials of both veterans and former members of paramilitary groups as part of a “truth and reconciliation” plan.

But while the government has said ministers are “fully committed” to addressing the legacy of the Troubles and the cycle of investigations, no concrete plan is set in stone.

Former veterans minister Johnny Mercer, who resigned over the issue, said his successor Leo Docherty had failed, tweeting: I was personally promised this on a number of occasions. It was never delivered. Hence I resigned.

“My successor promised it would be in the Queens Speech. It is not. At some stage, we must fulfil our promises to our veterans.”

‘Glaring’ omission on social care

Prime Minister Boris Johnson gestures as he addresses the nation at 10 Downing Street  (Photo: Peter Summers via Getty Images)
Prime Minister Boris Johnson gestures as he addresses the nation at 10 Downing Street (Photo: Peter Summers via Getty Images)

After Boris Johnson won an 80-seat majority, he vowed his government would tackle the social care crisis.

But despite pledges made on the steps of Downing Street in 2019, his Queen’s Speech has once again sidestepped the issue with no concrete legislation proposed.

Care groups, charities and politicians have been long calling for a plan to “fix” the sector.

Professor Martin Green, chief executive of the provider membership organisation Care England, said: “This is a missed opportunity.”

Deborah Alsina, chief executive of Independent Age, said she was “extremely disappointed by the lack of detailed policy announcements”.

She said: “Many people in later life, and those who care for them, need a social care system they can rely on. We are frustrated that the can, yet again, has been kicked down the road, despite this government promising in 2019 that it would transform our social care system.

“Vague slogans won’t ensure people receive the care and support they need.”

No new curbs against online scammers and misinformation

Hacker stealing password and identity (Photo: boonchai wedmakawand via Getty Images)
Hacker stealing password and identity (Photo: boonchai wedmakawand via Getty Images)

Tech giants like Facebook and Google could be fined billions if they fail to tackle illegal content.

Ofcom will be made regulator, the new online harms bill will say, and handed new powers, including the ability to issue large fines of up to £18m or 10% of annual global turnover – whichever is greater.

But campaigners have hit out over the online harms bill for another reason, however: it fails to tackle scams.

Martin Lewis, founder of Moneysavingexpert.com, said the government had “stumbled at the first fence” by not making tech firms responsible for removing scam content.

He said: “We live in a world where the policing of scams is dangerously underfunded, leaving criminals to get away with fraud with impunity.

“This was a chance to at least deny them the ‘oxygen of publicity’ by making big tech responsible for the scammers adverts it is paid to publish.”

Anabel Hoult, CEO of Which?, said the case to include scams was “overwhelming”, adding: “The current approach of self-regulation is not fit for purpose.

Other campaigners fear the legislation may not fully address misinformation, such as anti-vaxxer and fake news content.

Will Moy, chief executive of Full Fact, said: “A year of conspiracy theories and false health advice has shown the threat bad information poses to all our lives. We cannot go on relying on the internet companies to make decisions on online misinformation without independent scrutiny and transparency.”

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This article originally appeared on HuffPost UK and has been updated.