This Queen’s Speech was a statement about how David Cameron wants to lead his Government. His determination to deliver is unequivocal and the Government has wasted little time moving forward on key manifesto commitments.
A British Bill of Rights was delayed – promised in order to break the tie between the European Court of Human Rights and UK courts. Additional consultation is now likely. The three big issues that define the start of Parliament are, however, clear: the European referendum, a new settlement for Scotland and completing the job on deficit reduction.
We outline the proposals below:
Armed Forces Bill
Required every five years, the Bill will provide a legal basis for recruitment and discipline of the armed forces.
Bank of England Bill
The Bill will further strengthen the governance and accountability of the Bank of England, building on the changes made in the Financial Services Act 2012. Measures will include working towards Governor Carney’s vision of aligning monetary policy, macro prudential policy and micro prudential regulation.
The Bill will allow for combined authority areas with directly elected Mayors to be responsible for the running of their local bus services, providing the ability to franchise bus services.
Charities (Protection and Social Investment) Bill
The Bill will strengthen the powers of the Charity Commission and make it easier for charities to undertake social investment.
The Bill will deliver the manifesto commitment to provide 30 hours per week of free childcare for three and four-year-olds of families where all parents are working.
Cities and Local Government Devolution Bill
A key plank of the ‘Northern Powerhouse’ agenda, this Bill supports a central theme of the Government. Aimed at meeting commitments to devolve powers and budgets to boost local growth in England, it will allow for elected mayors for combined authority areas with significant executive powers.
Draft Public Service Ombudsman Bill
Aimed at allowing a more accessible tier of redress for customers, the Bill would create an overarching Public Service Ombudsman organisation that would include the functions of the ombudsman for Parliamentary and Health Service, Local Government and (potentially) Housing.
Education and Adoption Bill
This Bill will strengthen intervention powers in failing maintained schools and reinforce the message that sponsored academies is the solution.
The Bill will formally establish the new Oil and Gas Authority (OGA) as an independent regulator, complete with powers to issue fines of up to £1 million and revoke licences of operators that do not extract enough oil and gas. The measure will effectively transfer existing regulatory powers from Whitehall to the OGA, bringing with it changes in consent procedures.
This Bill will cut red tape and make it easier for small businesses to resolve disputes quickly and easily through a Small Business Conciliation Service. It aims to reward entrepreneurship and generate increased employment opportunities.
European Union (Finance) Bill
The Bill will make operative the financing arrangements for the seven year EU budget deal covering 2014-2020 (as agreed in 2013). This will preserve the UK’s rebate and prevent new EU-wide taxes and new types of Member States contributions to finance EU spending.
European Union Referendum Bill
The Bill will legislate for an in-out referendum vote on Britain’s membership of the EU, to be held before the end of 2017. The setting of an end date leaves open the possibility of an earlier vote and timing will be crucial. Tabled on 28 May, the Bill has passed Committee Stage and moves to Report Stage in the House of Commons. The amendment made ensures that the vote will not take place in May 2016.
The Bill will strengthen law enforcement powers to stop extremists promoting views and behaviour that “undermines British values”. Powers to ban extremist groups and close down premises being used to support such behaviours will be included.
Full Employment and Welfare Benefits Bill
This Bill will deliver the Government’s commitment to freeze the main rates of a number of working-age benefits, tax credits and Child Benefit, and to reduce the level of the benefit cap.
High Speed Rail (London-West Midlands) Bill
The Bill will provide the Government with the legal powers to construct and operate phase 1 of the HS2 railway.
Aimed at building opportunities for home ownership, this Bill will extend the Right to Buy to housing association tenants, increase the supply of starter homes and provide assistance for those wishing to build their own home.
Legislation will be introduced to place further controls on immigration and protect public services.
Investigatory Powers Bill
Commonly known as the ‘Snoopers’ charter’, this Bill will provide the police and the intelligence agencies with the tools to monitor communications data. Whilst the emphasis will be on targeting terrorist communications, concerns were expressed about the earlier draft allowing surveillance of data.
National Insurance Contributions Bill/Finance Bill
This Bill will deliver the Conservative’s pre-election commitment that there will be no increases in income tax rates, VAT or National Insurance in the next five years.
Northern Ireland (Stormont House Agreement) Bill
The Bill will establish the Historical Investigations Unit, responsible for taking forward outstanding investigations into unsolved deaths.
Policing and Criminal Justice Bill
The main provisions of the Bill are aimed at ensuring independent oversight into police investigations and detention, including with regard to vulnerable people. Reform of the police complaints system and making the Police Federation subject to the Freedom of Information Act are also features.
Psychoactive Substances Bill
This Bill will ban the new generation of so-called ‘legal highs’.
The Bill will deliver in full the Smith Commission agreement on further devolution to Holyrood, including significant powers over income tax, welfare and borrowing. With 56 SNP MPs now in Westminster, the progression of this Bill is likely to be lively.
Trade Unions Bill
Aimed at making strike action harder, this Bill will introduce a 50% voting threshold for union ballots turnout and a requirement that 40% of those entitled to vote must vote in favour of industrial action is essential public services.
Votes for Life Bill
The Bill will scrap the current 15 year time limit on the voting rights of British Citizens living overseas for UK parliamentary and European parliamentary elections.
The Bill will devolve significant new powers to the Welsh Assembly, including with regard to energy developments, transport, oil and gas exploration and the election process.
Which Bills have generated the most online chatter since the Queens Speech? The issues most talked about in the initial aftermath were, perhaps not surprisingly, the Bill of Rights and the EU referendum. The picture has changed somewhat in the weeks that have followed – providing an illuminating insight into issues that matter most.
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Click on the image above to see the larger graph (PDF, 80 KB)
Note: EVEL (English Votes for English Laws) is a change that will brought through via changes to Standing Orders of the House of Commons.