Relief as Theresa May ditches plans for grammar schools and fox hunting
There was a lot of stuff missing from the Queen's Speech...
Teachers and animal welfare campaigners have expressed relief after Theresa May was forced to leave two of her most controversial pet projects out of the Queen’s Speech.
Moves to create a new wave of grammar schools were not included in the speech setting out the government's plans for legislation. Instead it said the government would "look at all options" for opening new schools - but that will not include removing the current ban on expanding selection.
A Department for Education source said that the Queen's Speech was an unambiguous decision not to go ahead with creating more grammar schools.
It comes after polls have shown the public is split over the merits of grammar schools, as are Tory MPs. The Labour party and teaching unions have fiercely opposed the expansion plans.
Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, responded to the Queen's Speech: "Schools and colleges will be relieved that there are no immediate plans to introduce further reforms in a sector which has had more than its fair share of change and badly needs a breathing space."
But Barton added: "We are concerned to see that the government still intends to bring forward unspecified proposals during the course of the parliament. We sincerely hope that this is not an attempt to revive its plans to expand the number of selective schools in England. This policy is a dangerous distraction from the really important issues of funding and teacher supply and it should be consigned to history."
The Queen’s Speech also failed to mention May’s plans to hold a free vote on fox-hunting.
Fox hunting with hounds was outlawed by Tony Blair's Labour government in 2004 and polls suggest that more than 80 per cent of people are now opposed to the practice.
But May baffled and frustrated many of her own MPs by saying during the election campaign that she supported fox-hunting would offer a free vote on lifting the ban.
Reacting to today’s u-turn, League Against Cruel Sports CEO Eduardo Gonçalves said: "We are pleased to see that there is no mention of hunting in the Queen’s Speech. We hope that, following the outcry during the election campaign, Theresa May has now abandoned the manifesto pledge for a free vote on repeal of the Hunting Act. The reality is that the ban has overwhelming support from the British public.
"We have no doubt that a vocal minority will continue in their attempts to weaken or repeal the ban – either openly or via the back door. We therefore remain vigilant and there should be no doubt that we will continue to be the voice speaking up for animals, vigorously opposing any effort to weaken their protection.
"The Government should be clear that what the British people want from them is to get on with the job of improving animal protection, not undermining it."
In a major embarrassment, the Prime Minister has ditched plans to means test the winter fuel allowance, introduce a new generation of grammar schools and end the triple lock on pensions.
Mrs May has also cancelled plans to get rid of free school lunches for the youngest pupils and end the ban on fox hunting.
The prime minister also ditched plans to bring in a so-called demential tax, to means test the winter fuel allowance, to end the triple lock on pensions, to extend fracking and to get rid of free school lunches for the youngest pupils.
Photo by Press Assocation.