The Queen’s Speech to Parliament today has outlined the Government’s intended legislative programme for the next Parliamentary year.
As expected, there was no mention of a Higher Education Bill. Within overriding themes of economic growth, justice and constitutional reform, the detailed proposals include:
- measures to protect freedom of speech and reform defamation law;
- reform of public service pensions;
- repeal of unnecessary legislation affecting business;
- reform of competition law;
- establishing a green investment bank, to encourage “green” investment in the UK economy;
- stronger financial services/banking regulation, including separation of retail and investment banking operations;
- establishing an independent adjudicator to ensure that supermarkets deal fairly with their suppliers;
- tax relief on small donations to charities;
- reform of the electricity market and water industry;
- modernising pensions and reform of state pensions;
- closure of the Audit Commission, with new arrangements introduced for audit of local public bodies;
- improved provision for disabled children and children with special educational needs;
- reform of court processes involving children (in care and family proceedings);
- greater flexibility in parental leave so that it can be shared between partners;
- modernising adult social care and support in England;
- improved election administration law;
- reforming the composition of the House of Lords;
- establishing a National Crime Agency and reforming the Courts and Tribunal Service;
- Stronger court oversight of the security and intelligence agencies;
- Greater access to communications by the security services, subject to safeguards.
The Government can introduce other legislation if it wishes; as in previous years, the Queen’s speech to Parliament contains the proviso that “other measures will be laid before you”. In terms of the number of legislative measures, this Queen’s speech is relatively modest – some speeches under Tony Blair’s government included more than 40 proposed Bills. Other non-legislative matters in the speech include a commitment to seek Parliamentary approval for the Euro area financial stability package. There is no proposal yet for legislation regarding the High Speed 2 rail link. The full text of the Queen’s Speech is available here.