Harnessing the ingenuity and resolve of our fight against COVID
Miriam Cates MP | The Barnsley Chronicle
On Tuesday I attended the State Opening of Parliament, a (normally) yearly ceremonial occasion where Her Majesty the Queen delivers a speech setting out the legislation that the Government intends to take through Parliament.
Due to the pandemic, the State Opening had to be scaled-back and I was extremely lucky to be able to attend in person. Out of approximately 1500 MPs and Peers, only 34 of us were chosen by ballot to sit – socially distanced - in the royal gallery to watch the procession.
Despite the restrictions, it was a very moving event. I’ve never seen the Queen in person before and to see her up close, supported by Prince Charles, in the historic setting of the Palace of Westminster made me immensely proud of our country and our traditions.
But I am equally proud of the programme of legislation laid out in the speech, a programme that focuses on bringing good quality jobs to places like Barnsley as well as tackling some really important issues like animal welfare, security, and people trafficking.
Over recent decades, we’ve seen wealth and opportunity focused in London and the South East. Policy makers thought that people in areas like ours would up-sticks and move to find better jobs, but they didn’t properly understand that many of us love the area where we live, and place a high value on living near family and friends.
You shouldn’t have to leave your local community to find a good job; we need good jobs in every area of the country. That’s why the Government is introducing new Procurement and Subsidy Laws – now that we have left the EU, we are free to subsidise important British industries and make sure we use British suppliers wherever possible.
These new laws will allow us to be far more strategic in growing and spreading good jobs across the country, and I will be urging the Government to look closely at how we can support manufacturing, especially British Steel industry.
But good jobs also need a skilled workforce, and too many adults in places like Barnsley and have not had the opportunities to gain the skills they need for the jobs of the future. That’s why the Lifetime Skills Guarantee and the Post 16 Education Bill that were also set out in the Queen’s Speech will be so crucial for South Yorkshire, giving every adult who doesn’t have a Level 3 qualification the right to a fully funded course, forging closer links between colleges and employers. We’re also making student loans will more flexible, to allow adults to study locally at any level at places like Barnsley College and Northern College.
As we emerge from the pandemic, it’s the right time to harness the ingenuity and resolve of our fight against COVID, and spreading good jobs more fairly across the country is a great place to start.
This article was originally published in the Barnsley Chronicle in May 2021