Page last updated at 17:10 GMT, Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Labour out of ideas, says Cameron

David Cameron
Mr Cameron said Labour were putting party ahead of national interest

David Cameron has told MPs the Queen's Speech shows that the government has run out of "time, ideas and courage".

The Tory leader said there was nothing about the NHS or MPs expenses reform in it and said Gordon Brown's government was acting "like an opposition".

He attacked a key measure on halving the deficit as a "con" and said there was nothing on tackling unemployment.

With an general election imminent, critics say few bills will become law but ministers dispute that claim.

'Monumental failure'

The Queen's Speech contains proposals to provide help with personal care to 400,000 of the most vulnerable pensioners, measures to stop City excesses and a legal requirement to halve the budget deficit in four years.

But describing the Queen's Speech as a Labour "press release", Mr Cameron urged the prime minister to stop "dithering" and call a general election now.

Instead of trying to govern in the national interest, all they are trying to do is embarrass the Conservative Party
David Cameron

The government's legislative programme was the most insubstantial since it came to power in 1997, Mr Cameron said, and was all about "saving Labour's skin" rather than addressing the key problems facing the UK.

"They have run out of money, they have run out of time, they have run out of ideas and we've just seen from the prime minister that they've run out of courage as well," he said.

He accused ministers of trying to establish "dividing lines" between Labour and the Conservatives on certain issues ahead of the next election, which must be held by next June.

By doing so, they were neglecting crucial issues such as immigration controls, reducing costs for business, more accountability in policing and supporting the NHS, which he said was "clearly not a priority".

"Instead of trying to govern in the national interest, all they are trying to do is embarrass the Conservative Party," he said.

He attacked measures to toughen financial regulation and crack down on excessive pay awards as insufficient, saying the entire bank regulatory system put in place by Gordon Brown needed to be replaced.

'For the many'

Mr Cameron said the public should judge Labour not only on its record since 1997 but Gordon Brown's record since he became prime minister.

"This government has been a monumental failure. Every promise he [Gordon Brown] has made has turned to dust."

In response, Mr Brown said Labour was "standing up for Britain" and was the only party with policies to "build a long-term recovery".

Mr Brown said Mr Cameron's only "concrete" policy was to cut inheritance tax on estates worth up to £1m, suggesting the Tory leader would personally know many of the beneficiaries.

"Is this what the Conservatives mean when they say: 'We're all in this together'. Is this what they mean by the 'age of austerity' - austerity for the many paid for by tax cuts to the very few.

"I say poverty and inequality will endure until doomsday if the leader of the Opposition is all that is going to confront it."

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