Today the Queen delivered a One Nation Queen’s Speech from a One Nation Government. When we came to office in 2010, our urgent task was to get the British economy going again. With the strengthening economy moving in the right direction, we can be ambitious in our plans to deliver for the hardworking people of Britain.
Security for working people is the next step in our long-term economic plan for our country. Whether it is continuing to bring the public finances under control so that Britain lives within its means or delivering the infrastructure that British business needs to carry on creating jobs. To help create jobs, we will make our country a world leader in the digital economy, with new obligations on broadband providers to make sure everyone in Britain has access to an affordable high speed internet connection. To back business, we will make sure Britain has first-class infrastructure, especially when it comes to the transport of the future. To support aspiration and promote home ownership, we will build a million new homes across the country by reforming planning. And because we want to make sure every part of our country shares in our rising prosperity, we will legislate for a dramatic devolution of power to local areas, giving them complete control over business rate revenues to use as they wish to stimulate economic growth.
These reforms will help people get on. But to spread life chances to everyone, we have to go further in tackling the barriers to opportunity. With this Government, the number of people living in poverty has fallen; the number of students from low income backgrounds going to university has risen, and hope has returned to communities that were once written off. But there are still too many people left behind – and they need deeper, more intensive help.
Increasing life chances for the most disadvantaged is at the heart of this Queen’s speech. We will carry out bold reforms to tackle some of the deepest social problems in our country and remove all barriers to opportunity. We will give children in care the best possible start in life by tackling state failure, so children in care are not doomed to a life of poverty. There are reforms to schools, so excellence that comes with more teacher freedom is spread to every community. There is an expansion of higher education, so just as we uncapped the number of student places we now encourage the new universities that will help educate the next generation. And because this Government sees the potential in everyone, we will finally undertake the long-overdue change that our prisons need. No longer will they be warehouses for criminals; we want them to be incubators of changed and reformed lives. This is a Queen’s Speech aimed at giving everyone in our country the chance to get on.
Strengthening our national security to keep our country safe is the first duty of Government. We cannot extend opportunity or help working people if our country is not safe. So this is a Queen’s Speech that invests in Britain’s armed forces, honouring our NATO commitment to spend two per cent of GDP on defence. To support global stability and prevent new threats to our security, we will also meet our commitment on international development spending. And in an ever more dangerous and unstable world, where the threats to our country are increasing not diminishing, we will secure the long-term future of our nuclear deterrent and give our security and intelligence agencies the powers they need to keep us safe.
This is our legislative programme: to give working people security in their personal and professional lives; to increase the live chances for the most disadvantaged in our society; and to strengthen our national security to keep us all safer. We’ve set challenging, but achievable goals, using the strong foundations of our economy to make a series of bold choices that will improve lives across the country. It is a One Nation Queen’s Speech from a progressive, One Nation, Conservative Government.