The Queen’s speech cleared the House of Commons this evening by 323 to 309 votes. Obviously, the high level of interest in the Queen’s speech this year is because we have a minority government with a small majority. The 10 DUP MPs agreed to support the measures as part of a deal with the Conservatives. Two quick points to answer the issues some of you have raised with me:
1. Why the DUP deal? Without the DUP deal we will not have a government. The parliamentary arithmetic is such that no party can form a government without doing a deal with the DUP.
2. Why did I vote against Labour’s amendment on the public sector pay cap?
Freezing public sector pay was necessary to help reduce the deficit, which was 10% of GDP in 2010 and is now 2.5% of GDP. The freeze has also protected hundreds of thousand of jobs in the public sector during this period. Increasing the tax free personal allowance to £11,500 from c. £6,475 in 2010 has helped people keep more of what they earn.
That said, I fully understand the implications for all public sector workers of a pay freeze for such a long time and I made personal representations to the Chancellor last week. However, I did not think an amendment was the right context to deal with such a significant matter of economic policy with huge implications for the public finances.