A PAGEBOY fainted during the Queen’s speech. One suspects, however, that it was not from excitement.
The 11 bills put before parliament outlining the coalition’s plans for its last year in power before the general election were short of showstopping policies.
It was a programme for government more about stability than a dramatic new vision. Most of the legislation was already in the pipeline.
This was a steady as she goes programme, a sign that both ruling parties will be banking on the economic recovery to encourage people to support them next year.
Labour leader Ed Miliband characterised the programme as one which did not rise to the challenge of helping the low-paid, tackling energy costs or overcoming the housing shortage and cost of living crisis.
From a Scottish point of view, there was fleeting reference to the new Holyrood powers contained in the Scotland Act and the government’s desire to keep the UK together. Most of the bills also contained measures that will be relevant north of the Border – from the UK government’s pension reforms to its plans for a childcare subsidy worth £2,000 a year through the tax system.
The Scottish Government was quick to argue that yesterday’s proposals showed a growing political divide between Edinburgh and London on equality and fairness.
The childcare subsidy, argued the Scottish Government, would benefit wealthy families, because they spent most on having their children cared for and so would be entitled to the most rebate.