This years Queens speech seems to be full of half truths, lies and unrealistic promises, far in excess of some of its predecessors. Two of the clauses Queen Elizabeth was asked to read out on Wednesday were:
My government will continue to work to bring communities together and strengthen society.
Legislation will be introduced to prevent radicalisation, tackle extremism in all its forms, and promote community integration.
In order to take the first clause seriously one would need to ignore the painful dispute between the Department of Health and Junior Doctors, the near crisis created by George Osborne and Nicky Morgan as they set about forcing Schools to convert to Academies, irrespective of the views of local parents, councils and teachers. Then there has been the painful dispute between the Government and charities. There is the admittance by Stephen Crabb that there have been problems in the role out of Universal Credit, there is the enormous housing crisis. The list can go on and on. Even the EU referendum appears to be determined to push communities apart, particularly if the politicians in the Governments own party get their way. However this first clause was quickly followed by its partner that has the potential to be as troublesome as any of the others I have mentioned.
In 2013 under the coalition, Richard Heaton the First Parliamentary Counsel and Permanent Secretary of the Cabinet Office produced a report called “When laws become too complex” in which he wrote:
In the course of this review it appeared evident that while users would like legislation that is simple, accessible, easy to comply with and not unnecessarily burdensome, at present those are not the features of modern legislation……. There also needs to be a stronger incentive on all involved in the process to avoid generating excessively complex law, or to act positively to promote accessibility, ease of navigation, and simplification.
With that 2013 report sitting on a shelf in the Cabinet Office since Richard moved on to the Ministry of Justice last year, it is unfortunate that no one thought to dust the report off and give it a quick read before writing this years Queens speech. Perhaps too they could have considered another paragraph in Richards report:
The principles of collaboration and openness that form part of civil service reform could be applied to the preparation of legislation, as could the Government’s emphasis on simplification and transparency. Laws are not abstract sets of instructions and during their preparation the practicalities of how they will be promulgated, used and implemented should be carefully considered.
It is clear from the response to the promise to legislate to prevent radicalisation, tackle extremism in all its forms, and promote community integration such as the comments and reaction reported in this newspaper that collaboration and openness, let alone consideration as to how they will be implemented have been completely ignored by whoever proposed this naive and simplistic set of ideas. I don’t agree with everything that Peter Fahy has to say, but he understands policing and law keeping a great deal better than most people in our Government. Equally not all laws need to be discussed with respected Jewish and Islamic groups for their effectiveness, however to ignore them over a matter such as this is both irresponsible and naive. The closer one looks at this Queens Speech, the more it appears to be destined for the recycling bin. What a terrible waste of public money and time.