What can we expect in the Queen's Speech?
- Credit: PA
The government will set out its legislative agenda for the new parliamentary session in the Queen's Speech today (Tuesday, May 11).
The State Opening of Parliament, where the Queen sets out the government's legislative agenda, will be her first major public ceremonial duty since the death of the Duke of Edinburgh.
New legally binding environmental targets are expected to feature. There are also reports that the speech will address the long-awaited ban on conversion therapy, with a consultation to determine the scope of the ban to be held before the legislation is introduced.
Among the measures expected to be announced are:
- Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill. Ministers have confirmed they will bring back the bill, giving police in England and Wales greater powers to shut down protests. It comes despite being shelved in the last session amid protests around the country, including Norwich.
- Environment Bill. Also confirmed is the commitment to set new, legally-binding environmental targets in the run-up to the international Cop26 climate change summit in Glasgow at the end of year.
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- Adult social care. Boris Johnson promised reform when he entered Downing Street in 2019 but the government has yet to put forward proposals. However, Michael Gove insisted at the weekend that there will be a specific plan which will be "heading for the statute books" by the end of the year.
- A Health and Care Bill is expected to implement planned changes to the structure of NHS England.
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- A planning bill is expected to ease controls in England as part of a concerted drive to boost housebuilding.
- A Skills and Post-16 Education Bill is expected as part of the government's "levelling up" agenda with the promise of a "lifetime skills guarantee".
- A Sovereign Borders Bill is expected to overhaul the asylum system in an attempt to deter migrants from crossing the Channel.
- An Elections Integrity Bill is expected to require voters to produce proof of their identity when voting in elections.
- Fixed-term Parliaments Act repeal. Ministers have said they will scrap the 2011 legislation brought in by the former coalition government and restore the prerogative power to call early general elections.
- A Building Safety Bill is expected to bring in a new system of safety regulations and inspections for buildings under construction in the wake of the Grenfell Tower fire.
- Legislation is expected to limit future prosecutions of British soldiers who served in Northern Ireland during the Troubles. Reports suggest it may also cover paramilitaries.
- An Animal Sentience Bill will give animals "with a backbone" the "right" to have their feelings recognised in law.
- An Animals Abroad Bill is expected to ban the import of trophies from animal hunting while a Kept Animals Bill will stop live animal exports and ban families from keeping primates as pets.
The usual pomp and ceremony of the Queen's Speech will be scaled back drastically to reduce the potential for the spread of Covid-19, and all attendees will need to have a negative test beforehand.
Downing Street has said the promise of a "lifetime skills guarantee" will be central to plans for the new parliamentary session as the government seeks to rebuild the nation after the coronavirus pandemic.
No. 10 said new laws would create a post-16 and adult education and training system that is "fit for the future"
Ahead of the speech, the prime minister, Boris Johnson, said: "These new laws are the rocket fuel that we need to level up this country and ensure equal opportunities for all. We know that having the right skills and training is the route to better, well-paid jobs.
"I'm revolutionising the system so we can move past the outdated notion that there is only one route up the career ladder, and ensure that everyone has the opportunity to retrain or upskill at any point in their lives."
But Labour called for "action, not more rhetoric" as the opposition urged the government to set out a "clear plan to get Britain working for working people".