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Queen's Speech: New Bills

HM the Queen delivered her speech to both Houses of Parliament this morning, though with significantly less pomp and circumstance to which we have become accustomed owing to the shorter notice. The speech outlines the framework for the UK Government for the next two years (provided it lasts that long…) as the 2018 event has been cancelled to allow for more time for Brexit legislation.

Debates on the speech begin this afternoon and will continue for the next six sitting days. Amendments will be put forward on the final two days of debate, which have renewed importance owing to the minority status of the Government. The DUP, at this stage, is still expected to support the speech though has recently issued warnings that it will not countenance being ignored. The Conservative-DUP deal is expected to be announced tomorrow.

Back to today’s announcements, the Queen outlined plans for 24 new bills, eight of which were directly related to the process of exiting the EU. She said the Government’s priority was to secure the “best possible deal” for Britain and would build consensus among the devolved parliaments surrounding Brexit.

Announcements on legislation related to Brexit include:

  • A Repeal Bill which will repeal the European Communities Act and adopt the European acquis. It will also give the UK Parliament and devolved legislatures (where appropriate) the power to make changes to any future laws.
  • A Customs Bill to ensure the UK has a standalone customs regime on exit and also allow for flexibility to accommodate any future trade deal with the EU. It also means changes can be made the VAT and excise duty.
  • A Trade Bill to allow the establishment of new international trade deals after Brexit. The Government also pledged support for businesses that want to export from the UK.
  • An Immigration Bill to end freedom of movement, though a pledge to continue to allow highly-skilled individuals into the UK was also made.
  • A Fisheries Bill to bring British waters under the control of the Government and also allow the UK to set its own fishing quotas.
  • An Agriculture Bill to offer support to farmers once the UK it out of the Common Agricultural Policy. Expect measures on protecting the environment to also be included.
  • A Nuclear Safeguards Bill to replace EU nuclear safety regulations after departure from Euratom.
  • An International Sanctions Bill which returns power of non-UN sanctions to the UK Government and allows the UK to impose its own sanctions under international law.

In addition, there will also be the EU (Approvals) Bill, which will implement changes to international agreements between the EU and non-EU countries.

Other commitments covered the economy, promoting fairness, defence, NHS patient safety and data protection. The following Bills will appear in the next two years:

  • An Automated and Electric Vehicles Bill which will extend compulsory insurance to self-driving cars and extend electric charging points to motorway service stations across the country.
  • A Space Industry Bill to allow the Government to regulate and licence the spaceflight industry.
  • A High Speed 2 Bill for the next phase of the HS2 railway.
  • A Smart Meter Bill to continue their rollout, with a deadline off all households and businesses being offered one by the end of 2020.
  • A National Insurance Contributions Bill which will make the changes announced in the 2016 Budget and Autumn Statement.
  • A Travel Protection Bill to update the UK's financial protection scheme for holidays.
  • A Draft Domestic Violence and Abuse Bill to install a Commission to advocate on behalf of victims. It will also see harsher sentences where behaviour involves children.
  • A Civil Liability Bill to crack down on fraudulent whiplash claims after car accidents.
  • A Courts Bill seeking to modernise the court system and improve the experience of domestic abuse victims in family courts.
  • A Financial Guidance and Claims Bill, which will establish a statutory body with responsibility for coordinating money advice. It will also provide the Financial Conduct Authority with new powers.
  • A Data Protection Bill to improve privacy rights online and help law enforcement agencies swap information more seamlessly.
  • A Draft Patient Protection Bill to protect patient safety in the NHS.           
  • An Armed Forces Bill which commits to meet NATO funding targets and fulfil the Armed Forces Covenant.
  • A Draft Tenants' Fees Bill to ban tenants’ fees.         
  • A Good Mortgages Bill which will protect borrowers who face financial difficulties.

Non-legislative announcements covered counter-terrorism and combatting extremism, the Grenfell Tower fire, mental health reform social care, reforming technical education, tackling the gender pay gap, and housing. The background briefing provided more information on all legislative and non-legislative measures.

If you’d be interested in following any of the legislation or related inquiries more closely, our Tracker Service would be just the trick. Contact us to find out more about how we keep tabs in legislation at Westminster and Holyrood.

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