Feedback from British Conservatives in Paris to Conservative Policy Forum (15 February, 2020) concerning the Queen’s speech


·         General: the overall balance between the international role of the UK on the one hand and the emphasis on a One Nation approach to “healing” the nation & the body politic is commendable

·         Particular points we were happy to see included

o   The points-based immigration system

o   The “NHS Long Term Plan”

o   The proposal to increase funding per pupil “to ensure all children can access a high quality education”

§  Cf we have recommended elsewhere that the cost of higher education puts an unconscionable burden on young people and invited policy makers to consider how things are done in certain countries on the Continent such as France or Germany (not to suggest that those countries have perfect systems:  it is noteworthy however that in them there is a very broad consensus in favour of distinctly modest/virtually nominal tuition fees)

o   The “Renters’ Reform Bill”

§  Again reference to what actually happens in France and Germany (legal regime, market conditions) would be instructive

·         In France the renters may be over-protected:  the system does however prevent much or most egregious abuses by landlords – of particular importance given the unaffordability of housing for own home purchase for a very large share of the (especially younger) part of the population

·         In Germany there is a massive private rental housing sector which provides quality housing in attractive locations with protections for renters designed to allow them to make a choice in favour of longterm rentals

o   Germans’ appetite for such rentals is sometimes blamed for the surprisingly low net worth of German private households

§  However again the point for the UK situation is the inaccessibility of housing on the buy/sell market and thus the need for remedial measures elsewhere

o   The “Counter Terrorism (Sentencing and Release) Bill”

o   Policy to invest in public services and infrastructure

§  Cf budget/national debt policies

·         One might infer from the speech that tax increases somewhere will be necessary to maintain the financial equilibrium called for therein

o   Clarification in this area will be needed – politically and practically – in the near future

o   Levelling up across regions

§  Same comment as in preceding point re public finances

·         NB:  this is not intended to convey the message that we are lukewarm on this “Northern Strategy” policy – on the contrary!

o   Reform business rates

o   Consider constitutional issues raised by the Brexit “saga”

§  The role of the courts is a major question:  does the UK wish to go the way of the US with “government by the judges” across the board?

·         Hopefully not

§  Fixed-term Parliaments Act:  has proved problematical in practice and therefore deserves to be fundamentally called into question

o   “Integrated Defence, Security and Foreign Policy Review”

§  The state of the world as it is today calls for such a review:  fundamental shifts are occurring on many fronts and on many levels


·         General:  the thrust and most of the particular items in the speech were well received

o   A handful of items encountered minority questioning

·         Particular items with majority reserves

o   Increase local powers to tackle air pollution

§  Problems

·         Is the nature of such problems not inherently national (or wider) in scope (even if there may be local sources of pollution:  these should be addressed in the larger context)?

·         Even ignoring the first point:  local authorities may lack the technical competence and/or political will and/or clout to effectively deal with such issues

o   “animals as sentient beings”

§  In agreement with the principle of avoiding cruelty to animals

§  Cave:  avoiding providing succour to animal rights extremists


·         General comment:  there were some omissions we deemed regrettable

·         Particulars

o   Some indications were given as to areas of infrastructure spending (eg wrt transport) however a bit more here would have been helpful

o   Withdrawal from the European Convention on Human Rights?:  or meaningful threats at least to do the same (or suspend membership) to resist the politicisation of that instrument and of the ECHR, and their surreptitious partial capture/being subjected to influence by unrepresentative groups (cf recent serious of articles in Valeurs Actuelles on the subject; and the general evolution of ECHR decisions in recent times)

o   On foreign policy major issues:  perhaps at least some general indication of the direction of travel on specific subjects might have been helpful, eg

§  The recently presented US peace plan for Israel and Palestine

§  Libya

§  China

§  Etc

§  – taking care of course not to unduly tie the hands of the government for dealing with future circumstances

o   “votes for life”

o   Re financial services:  what is the aim wrt the future relationship with UE/27 in this area?

o   Addressing the housing shortage:  a “mega issue” in our view

§  Cf

·         Problems of social justice

o   A major share of the population has “lucked into” vast housing wealth they never contemplated

o   While another major share has “un-lucked into” a prospect of a lifelong housing poverty (at least in relative terms) – regardless of hard work etc

·         Imbalances created by new trends in financial flows worldwide “distorting” or at least mightily impacting housing markets:  why should the government consider it appropriate to sit by passively and “let the market do its work/worst”?  ↘ Government has a responsibility to address big issues arising out of such massive disruption of economic flows and (im)balances

o   Policy on GAFA et al

§  Including taxation

o   Productivity levels in the UK – how to address the relatively poor performance of the UK in recent decades as against eg France, Germany & many other countries

Paul Thomson

Vice Chairman/CPF Secretary


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