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This week saw the delivery of the Gracious Speech from Her Majesty the Queen to Parliament. The Queen’s Speech in normal times is used by a government to put forward its legislative programme for the year ahead. But these are not normal times.

The Speech delivered a wish list of laws, none of them achievable as the government has a majority of minus 45. That means that there is no chance of many, if any, of these uncosted promises being implemented in the near future.

I my response to the Speech I noted there were some grounds for cross-party cooperation. Issues like ending trophy hunting of wild animals and bringing the Northern Ireland Assembly back online.

But there were many other aspects of the Speech which deeply worried me.

One was a proposal to introduce voter ID. This would mean that no one would be allowed to vote without government recognised identification. Now, if you just glance at this you may not think there is a problem. But when you look at the details you quickly see how this is actually a proposal to suppress the vote.

25% of the UK population doesn’t have a driving licence and/or passport. Currently, a passport costs £85 and a driving licence costs £34 (plus £10 more if you can’t apply online). This means that the most vulnerable people will be locked out of voting. Age UK has said that these proposals are ‘crazy’ and the Electoral Reform Society has pointed out that electoral fraud is minuscule and these policies are like a sledgehammer to crack a nut.

I also was deeply disappointed that no announcements were made on introducing laws to protect shopworkers from violence at work. 115 retail staff are attacked a day just for doing their job. We cannot continue with the madness of people being scared of going to work for fear of attack.

There was also no news on legislating on air weapons. The UK Government launched a review of air weapons on the 12 December 2017. That review closed in February 2018. We still haven’t had a response from the UK Government. I have constituents who have put in efforts to providing evidence for this review because they have lost loved ones. The discourtesy of the UK Government towards these families is appalling. We need action on protecting people from harm from air weapons.

I also raised concerns about the government’s plans on immigration. The most concerning are the words on Irish nationals. Since 1922 the UK and Republic of Ireland have operated a Common Travel Area. This means that Irish nationals can travel and work within the UK. When in government, we secured this even further in the Good Friday Agreement. This ensured that those who wanted to identify as Irish, British or both could do in Northern Ireland. Removal of the 1922 agreement would deeply divide communities in Northern Ireland and undermine lasting peace.

In all, this was a uncosted wish list by the Government. There was an opportunity to deliver radical policies to help people get on in life. Sadly, this was an opportunity missed.

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The Prime Minister came to the Commons at the end of the week to present his new negotiating position with the EU to MPs.

I wanted to delve into the detail of his proposals because they deeply concern me over the impact on businesses and stability on the island of Ireland. Within paragraph nine of his proposals, the UK Government say that traders moving goods between Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland and Great Britain would need to implement a new system of checks. Not only would this place new costs on businesses moving goods and services between mainland Britain and Northern Ireland, but it would also introduce infrastructure on the island of Ireland.

We have gone from a situation where there would be one border on the island of Ireland under the former Prime Minister, Theresa May MP’s, deal to two in this.

Additional borders cost money, and in the case of Northern Ireland erect barriers between communities. This is dangerous.

The Prime Minister offered a meeting and I will happily take him up on that offer.

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During an interview with LBC radio the Home Secretary stated that he would spend £500million, plus annual costs, on the Northern Ireland border. This was without scrutiny from Parliament or publication of the figures for wider consultation.

It would appear that this number was plucked out of thin air during the interview to ensure a favourable reaction in his bid to be the next Prime Minister. We cannot run our government in this way.

That is why I raised these figures in the House of Commons. The Secretary of State didn’t answer my question and instead hid behind his Minister of State for Security who tells us that the Home Secretary has no recollection of these figures and asked that I write to him.

I have done just that, with a copy of the quotes from the interview. I hope that this will jog the memory of the Home Secretary and we can get some honest answers.

By David Hanson MP / Latest News / / 0 Comments
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Following the tragic and mindless murder of journalist Lyra McKee, the Prime Minister and the Taoiseach of the Republic of Ireland announced that all sides will be embarking on trying to get the power sharing agreement back online.

We have been without a Northern Ireland Assembly for over two years. The peace process is under tremendous strain because of other factors outside of Northern Irish politics – such as Brexit – and we need an executive back in Northern Ireland making decisions for their people.

I wanted to draw the Secretary of State’s attention to the St Andrew agreement struck by Tony Blair and the Northern Ireland office last time power sharing collapsed. We need focus from the very top of government to bring an end to this stalemate and restore peaceful local rule.