The Queen’s Speech contained a number of new measures including legislation to help rejuvenate high streets and crack down on truancy.
Prince Charles delivered the speech at the State Opening of Parliament after the Queen, who is experiencing mobility issues, was forced to pull out of the event for the first time in almost 60 years.
The Government, it was said would make it a priority to “grow and strengthen the economy” and help ease the cost of living for families. The energy bill will see the energy price cap extended beyond next year.
It also vowed to take action to prevent “dangerous and illegal Channel crossings” and tackle the criminal gangs who profit from the journeys.
In all, the speech included 38 bills or draft bills, including some that had been carried over from the last parliamentary session. Here’s what you need to know about them.
What new legislation is to be introduced?
A Schools Bill for England will crack down on truancy, beef up the powers of education watchdogs and reform the funding system,
This will enable the privatisation of Channel 4.
Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill
This is expected to give local leaders powers to rejuvenate high streets, by forcing landlords to rent out empty shop units.
It will see the creation of a new public sector body to oversee Britain’s railways. Great British Railways (GBR) will “simplify” the rail network and improve services for passengers, according to a Downing Street briefing document on the Transport Bill.
It will absorb the state-owned infrastructure management company Network Rail and take on many functions from the Department for Transport. GBR will issue passenger service contracts to private companies to run trains.
The bill also features legislation to allow self-driving and remotely-operated vehicles and vessels, as well as supporting the rollout of more electric vehicles chargepoints as part of the transition from petrol and diesel models.
Energy Security Bill
Focused on paving the way for new, low-carbon technologies and growing the consumer market for electric heat pumps. It will
also appoint Ofgem as the new regulator for heat networks and extend the energy price cap beyond 2023. The price cap on energy bills was introduced in 2019 with the ability to extend annually until 2023, but next year the rules are set to expire.
The Government said the cap is the best way of protecting millions of households across the country, despite recent record rises in energy bills that happened when the price cap was in place.
UK Infrastructure Bank Bill
Establishes the bank in law, with clear objectives to support regional and local economic growth and deliver net zero.
Non-Domestic Rating Bill
This will shorten the business rates revaluation cycle from five to three years from 2023.
Product Security and Telecommunications Infrastructure Bill
Requires manufacturers, importers and distributors of smart devices to comply with minimum security standards.
Electronic Trade Documents Bill
This will put electronic trade documents on the same legal footing as their paper equivalents, which the Government says will cut down on “wasteful paperwork” and “needless bureaucracy”.
High Speed Rail (Crewe – Manchester) Bill
Provides the powers to build and operate the next stage of the High Speed Two (HS2) network between Crewe and Manchester.
Brexit Freedoms Bill
Creates new powers to strengthen the ability to amend, repeal or replace retained EU law by reducing reliance on primary legislation. It would mean laws inherited from the European Union could be more easily amended.
This will enshrine in law the objectives of public procurement including: delivering value for money, maximising public benefit, treating suppliers equally and without discrimination, and acting, and being seen to act, with integrity.
Financial Services and Markets Bill
Revokes retained EU law on financial services and updates regulators’ objectives to bring about a greater focus on growth and international competitiveness.
Data Reform Bill
The legislation will reform the UK’s data protection regime, replacing the regulations inherited from the European Union with a system “focused on privacy outcomes rather than box-ticking”.
Trade (Australia and New Zealand) Bill
The legislation will ensure the UK can comply with the obligations set out in the free trade deals struck with Australia and New Zealand.
Genetic Technology (Precision Breeding) Bill
The new laws will remove EU measures which prevent the development and marketing of “precision bred” plants and animals using techniques such as gene editing.
Higher Education Bill
Could be used to set minimum qualification requirements for a person in England to be eligible for student loans to go to university, effectively restricting access.
Will also create a lifelong loan entitlement to support people to retrain.
Social Housing Regulation Bill
Aimed at improving tenants’ rights in the wake of the Grenfell Tower disaster, with increased powers for the regulator.
Renters Reform Bill
This will seek to abolish so-called “no fault” evictions by removing Section 21 of the Housing Act 1988 but also seek to reform possession grounds for landlords, strengthening them for repeated cases of rent arrears.
Harbours (Seafarers’ Remuneration) Bill
In the wake of the mass sacking of P&O Ferries workers, this will seek to crack down on ferry operators who do not pay National Minimum Wage by giving ports new powers to surcharge them and ultimately suspend them from accessing the port.
It will also force operators to ensure all seafarers receive a fair wage while in UK territory and provide legal sanctions for cases of non-compliance or supplying of false information.
Social Security (Special Rules for End of Life) Bill
This will aim to allow more people nearing the end of their life to access three disability benefits: Personal Independence Payment, Disability Living Allowance and Attendance Allowance.
Public Order Bill
This includes a new crackdown on “guerrilla protests” with harsher sentences as well as making new criminal offences for those who glue themselves to roads or “lock on” to public transport infrastructure.
National Security Bill
This will reform existing espionage laws in a bid to tackle modern threats and bring in new offences to target state-backed sabotage, foreign interference, stealing trade secrets and assisting a foreign intelligence service.
Economic Crime and Corporate Transparency Bill
This will seek to crack down on illicit finance, including by creating new powers to seize crypto assets more quickly and increasing powers to check information on the Company Register.
Modern Slavery Bill
This will aim to increase support for victims of human trafficking and modern slavery, including by toughening sanctions for breaches of Slavery and Trafficking Prevention and Risk Orders.
Online Safety Bill
Carried over from the previous parliamentary session, the legislation includes measures aimed at forcing online giants to take responsibility for protecting users and removing illegal content.
Bill of Rights
Reforms affecting the Human Rights Act will be introduced but the Bill appeared not to go as far as replacing the legislation as previously billed.
Northern Ireland Troubles (Legacy and Reconciliation) Bill
Creates a system for immunity from prosecution for Troubles-related offences and sets up a new Independent Commission for Reconciliation and Information Recovery to enable individuals and family members to seek and receive information about what happened to their loved ones.
Identity and Language (Northern Ireland) Bill
The legislation will enhance and develop the Ulster Scots/Ulster British tradition in Northern Ireland while recognising and protecting the Irish language, based on measures in the New Decade, New Approach Deal.
Animal Welfare (Kept Animals) Bill
The law will ban live exports, tackle puppy smuggling and prohibit keeping primates as pets without a licence.
Conversion Therapy Bill
Bans the controversial practice for attempting to change sexual orientation, but not gender identity.
Higher Education (Freedom of Speech) Bill
Seen as part of the Government’s culture war agenda, the legislation will introducing new freedom of speech and academic duties on higher education providers, their constituent colleges and students’ unions.
Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions Bill
Prevents public bodies effectively running their own foreign policies by pursuing campaigns to boycott goods from certain countries. The move comes in the wake of efforts by councils to boycott goods from Israel.
What are draft bills?
These are bills introduced in a first draft form to allow them to be looked at in detail before they are introduced, usually by a Commons or Lords select committee. The process is known as ‘pre-legislative scrutiny.’
The drafts bills in the speech were:
Draft Victims Bill
The legislation will enshrine the Victims’ Code in law and improve the support they receive – particularly for victims of sexual violence, domestic abuse and serious violence.
Draft Protect Duty Bill
In the wake of the Manchester Arena bombing the legislation will introduce new requirements for certain public locations and venues to draw up plans to respond to terrorism.
Draft Mental Health Act Reform Bill
Overhauls existing powers to protect patient liberty and prevent those with learning difficulties from being detained without their consent.
Draft Digital Markets, Competition and Consumer Bill
Cracks down on “subscription traps” and fake reviews, strengthens protections for consumers using Christmas savings clubs.
Also gives the Competition and Markets Authority the ability to decide for itself when consumer law has been broken, and to issue penalties for those breaches.
Draft Audit Reform Bill
This will establish a new statutory regulator, the Audit, Reporting and Governance Authority, and empower it to enforce directors’ financial reporting duties.