Norman Lamb says Queen's Speech a missed opportunity for public services

The Queen’s Speech fails to address some of the biggest challenges facing the country, North Norfolk MP Norman Lamb has warned in a House of Commons debate on ‘Defending Public Services’.

Mr. Lamb said that the safety of patients is being put at risk by the immense financial pressure facing the NHS, three days after NHS trusts announced a record deficit of £2.45bn. He highlighted the “massive consequences” of the underfunding of mental health and cuts to preventive services, including immense pressure on hospitals and an increase in the scandalous practice of people with mental illness being shunted around the country in search of a bed.

Mr. Lamb also pointed to the high number of people with mental illness in prisons, and a spike in prison suicides, as a “fundamental failure of public policy”.  Challenging the Government to “radically reduce the number of people who end up inappropriately in our prisons”, he repeated his call for end to the so-called ‘war on drugs’, a legalised and regulated cannabis market, and a greater focus on mental health treatment orders as an alternative to prison sentences.

You can read the full speech here.

Speaking after the debate, Norman Lamb said:

“The Queen’s Speech was a real missed opportunity to address these critical challenges.

“Every day we are confronted with stark new evidence of the pressures facing health and care services. As well as more funding, there is now an overwhelming need for all parties to come together to design a new long-term settlement for the system.

“We also have to stop unfairly criminalising young people and gifting billions of pounds to organised crime through our arcane drugs laws. Britain is behind the curve on this. I strongly believe we must follow the more enlightened and evidence-based policies adopted in countries such as Canada, Portugal and Uruguay, with a focus on safety and public health through regulation rather than dishing out criminal records and prison sentences.”

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