Rishi Sunak’s legislative agenda has been dismissed as being full of “cheap gimmicks” that is so thin it could be passed by MPs in a couple of weeks.
The King’s Speech on Tuesday announced moves to impose tougher sentences on offenders, permit new oil and gas drilling and to ban smoking.
In total it included 21 Bills, but there was little in the way of eye-catching new pieces of legislation in areas such as the NHS or education.
And some previously promised laws, such as a ban on conversion therapy and reforms to mental health treatment, were dropped.
With just a year to go until the expected date of the general election, critics slammed the government for a lack of ambition for the country.
Chris Bryant, Labour’s shadow digital minister, told the BBC: “This isn’t a legislative programme for a year.
“We could get all of this done in a fortnight and then have a general election,” he said. “This government has run out steam. It has run out of ideas.”
Ed Davey, the Lib Dem leader, said: “All Rishi Sunak had to offer was cheap gimmicks and reheated policies.
“There was nothing but empty words on the biggest issues facing the country, from the NHS crisis to the sewage scandal.
“There were no real solutions for patients left waiting months in pain for treatment, homeowners seeing their mortgages sky-rocket or communities seeing their local rivers ruined by sewage.
“It shows the Conservative government is out of touch, out of ideas and deserves to be kicked out of office.”
Christina McAnea, the general secretary of the Unison union, said little that had been announced would “make the slightest bit of difference to the many real and deep-seated problems the country faces”.
“This is a legislative programme heavy on cheap political points, but light on policies to right the wrongs of years of foolhardy austerity,” she said.
Nicola Ranger, the chief nurse at the Royal College of Nursing, said while the phasing out of legal cigarette sales was welcome, the overall agenda “failed to deliver legislation to address the crisis in the nursing workforce”.
“The future of health and care services will be defined by whether politicians listen to those who work in them. Right now, nursing staff are caring for people in corridors, unsafe numbers of patients, and they’re raising the alarm over record shortages.”
Stonewall said the failure to deliver a ban on conversion practices after five years of promises was “an act of frightful negligence”.
Robbie de Santos, director of external affairs for the campaign group, said: “In doing so, it has given the green light for the abuse against LGBTQ+ people to continue unchecked.”
“Rather than getting mired in a cynical cultural war, the UK Government should be making decisions based on what the evidence and expertise said. England and Wales’ 1.5 million LGBTQ+ people, and their families, deserve better.”
Sarah Hughes, the chief executive of the charity Mind, said a Mental Health Bill was needed to “address the deep racial injustices” in the current law with Black people being four times more likely to be detained.
“It is also a crucial chance to prevent people being stripped of their dignity, voice and independence when they are sectioned,” she said.
“That chance has now been missed, and the UK government has broken its promise to thousands of people, their loved ones and the nation as a whole to reform the Act.′