Below is the text of the speech made by Karl Turner, the Labour MP for Kingston upon Hull East, in the House of Commons on 19 December 2019.
It is a real honour to be called in this important Queen’s Speech debate, and it is a pleasure to follow the hon. Member for East Worthing and Shoreham (Tim Loughton). I agreed with some of what he said, but there was an awful lot that I disagreed with entirely, not least the mention he made of the former Speaker. For me, John Bercow was somebody who jealously guarded the rights of Back Benchers and more junior Members in this House to hold the Government to account, whether they were on the Government Benches or the Opposition Benches.
If you will indulge me, Mr Deputy Speaker, I want to make brief mention of some colleagues who are not here today. Some from my own region include Nic Dakin, who loyally represented Scunthorpe, Melanie Onn who represented Great Grimsby, Caroline Flint, who was a great colleague and a loyal servant to this House and her constituents, and Paula Sherriff. There are too many to mention all of them, but I just want briefly to say that I have rarely spoken in this House without having the privilege of looking over to the Bench there and seeing the Beast of Bolsover. I have known Dennis Skinner since I was a young child and I remember him fondly. He shared a flat with my predecessor, John Prescott, who I am glad to say is recovering from a period of ill health; he is doing well. This House will miss the likes of Dennis Skinner, and it would have been remiss of me not to pay tribute to him in this way.
I welcome some of the things in the Humble Address, some of which were taken directly from the Labour party’s socialist manifesto. However, those people in east Hull who lent their vote to the Conservatives did not give the Government permission to flog off our NHS to Donald Trump’s America. Nor did they give their permission for environmental standards and consumer protections to be thrown away in the withdrawal agreement. They did not give the Government permission to deliberately and savagely erode their hard-fought and hard-won employment rights. It is clear from the Queen’s Speech that the Government intend fully to take away the employment rights of those hard-working people in my constituency.
There has also been mention of facilitating a situation whereby transport workers will be prevented from taking strike action. I declare an interest as a loyal member of the Rail, Maritime and Transport parliamentary group in this House. People who get up in the morning and go to work do not need fewer rights in the workplace. They need better, stronger rights in the workplace and, my word, they are really going to need them as we move forward with this particular Government. It was a real shame that this Government did not address the social injustices in east Hull. People who get up in the morning, get on a bike, pedal to their place of work and work hard for very long hours tell me regularly in my surgeries that they often resort to using food banks. It is true not just in east Hull but across the country that there are more food banks than there are McDonald’s restaurants. When I was elected in 2010, that simply was not the situation. It simply was not true, but it is now.
What the Government have not done in this Queen’s Speech is address the issues that concern people in my constituency. They include the bedroom tax, which is incredibly unfair and affects the most vulnerable people in my constituency the hardest. The Government have not addressed the unfairness of universal credit, or the fact that people are still really struggling to navigate that new system of welfare. They did not address an awful lot of things in the Queen’s Speech. It is true that people in my constituency lent their vote to the Conservatives on this occasion, but they will not make that mistake again because the proof of the pudding is in the eating, and we know from this Queen’s Speech that it is going to get a lot worse for people who live in east Hull. I am here to defend and work hard to protect those vulnerable people, and I promise my constituents in east Hull that I will be doing that at every single opportunity I get.