It was a good Queen's Speech, insists Robin Walker

The House of Commons

The House of Commons

First published in News Worcester News: Tom Edwards by , Political Reporter

PLANS to overhaul pensions, offer parents better deals on childcare costs and penalise businesses who 'abuse' zero hours contracts have been welcomed by Worcester's MP.

Robin Walker told your Worcester News he is confident the measures announced in the Queen's Speech will make a difference over the next year.

Last Wednesday Her Majesty outlined the Coalition Government's plans for the final 11 months until the 2015 general election.

It aims to focus on the economy, with new laws due to be passed on:

- Over 55s with 'defined contribution' pensions will be able to withdraw their savings as they wish

- A new tax-free childcare subsidy worth up to £2,000 a year per child will be introduced in the autumn of 2015, for parents of under 12s

- There will be tougher penalties for firms flouting minimum wage rules and "abusing" zero hours contracts under an employment bill

- The Highways Agency will become a Government-owned company, leading to a shake-up of its finances and more money for roads

As your Worcester News reported on Wednesday, it also includes powers for the public to axe badly-behaved MPs and help for pubs to get independent rental reviews.

Fuel duty will again be frozen, married couples can expect a tax allowance of some form under a families bill, and a new target of finding two million apprenticeships by May 2015 were also among the aims.

Mr Walker said: "Along with delivering economic progress we need to keep doing everything we can to create a level playing field and back fairness.

"That's why I welcome tougher penalties on businesses that don’t pay a fair wage, more transparency in corporate ownership and a continued focus on collecting unpaid tax.

"Investing in the transport infrastructure of our country is vital.

“Four measures which I have campaigned hard for and was particularly pleased to see included were the fuel duty freeze, the married couple’s tax allowance, help for the pubs sector and the commitment to keep increasing opportunities for apprenticeships.

"These are changes that will make a real difference for the future and benefit thousands of people in Worcester."

There were 11 bills announced in the Queen's Speech, with Labour leader Ed Miliband criticising the compact tally as signs of a "zombie" administration.

But David Cameron has called it a "packed programme of a busy and radical Government".

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