It was great to be in Parliament for one of the most important days in the political calendar as we unveiled new laws in the Queen’s Speech to set out our national priorities after the pandemic. The new legislative programme will be focused on supporting the nation’s recovery. Now more than ever the NHS is our top priority – tackling backlogs and improving patient care is at the heart of that. We will go further to unite and level up the country; delivering on the promises we made to the British people in our manifesto by supporting jobs, businesses, and our economy. Creating safer streets and neighbourhoods via and achieving net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 were also at the top of the agenda and I look forward to working on this over the next year. The Queen’s Speech not only addressed the legacies of the pandemic but will go further to unite and level up the country, spreading opportunity across the country as we recover.
As part of the landmark reforms announced in our Queen’s Speech, we will set out new laws for the Prime Minister’s Lifetime Skills Guarantee, giving people the skills they need for well-paid jobs and opportunities to train throughout their lifetime. It is important that we move past the outdated notion that there is only one route up the career ladder, and ensure that everyone has the opportunity to retrain or upskill. That is why the new legislative measures set out will enable a new student finance system to transform the current student loans system, give employers a statutory role in planning publicly-funded training programmes with education providers, and give the Secretary of State for Education more powers to intervene in colleges that fail to meet local needs. By revolutionising the skills system, we are levelling up our country and ensuring equal opportunities for all, setting people on the route to better, well-paid jobs.
Last week we announced that we can go ahead with the Step 3 easing of restrictions on 17 May – but the Prime Minister warned that this roadmap is irreversible, and we must continue to exercise caution and common sense. Thanks to the extraordinary efforts of people across the country and our recording-breaking vaccination programme, we can cautiously move forwards with the easing of lockdown restrictions. This means that from 17 May, the majority of the indoor and remaining outdoor economy can reopen following the Rule of Six or two households, and gathering limits will increase indoors and outdoors. Guidance for close contact between friends and family will be updated, with people exercising their own personal judgement in line with the risks, and the Stay in the UK restriction will be lifted and people will be able to travel to green list countries. Whilst we are all grateful that we are able to move one step closer towards the return to our normal way of life, these decisions are irreversible and we must continue to remain cautious and not risk resurgence of the virus.