The Queen’s Speech – at a glance
Today was the day of the Queen's Speech - an event that forms part of the State Opening of Parliament ceremony and sets out new laws. Usually, the speech is delivered by the Queen herself, but for the first time since 1963, she did not attend due to health reasons. Instead, the speech was delivered by Prince Charles, who highlighted some of the 38 laws ministers intend to pass in the coming year.
Some of the key points included:
Business and Infrastructure
A new Levelling-up and Regeneration Bill could give councils new planning powers, including to force landlords in England to let out empty shops as a way of helping to rejuvenate high streets.
There will be changes to business rates introduced by way of a non-domestic rating bill.
Following the row over wages paid to P&O staff, a new Harbours (Seafarers’ Remuneration) Bill will be introduced to enable British ports to refuse ferry services that do not pay their crews the national minimum wage.
There will be a new state-run agency introduced to regulate railway services across the UK and established by a Transport Bill. Plus, there will be new powers to drive forward the delivery of the next phase of HS2 from Crewe to Manchester.
Crime and Security
A Public Order Bill will introduce new police powers over disruptive protests, which were previously blocked by the House of Lords.
An Economic Crime and Corporate Transparency Bill will improve the investigatory powers of Companies House and aim to increase corporate transparency.
A draft Victims' Bill will implement a long-promised pledge to create new rights for the victims of crime.
Plans have been outlined to overhaul the Official Secrets Act – a law that was created in 1911 to prevent former government employees leaking certain types of information that could be perceived as damaging. However, a new National Security Bill will give new authority to security services that could see the Official Secrets Act replaced. Some say this could affect investigative journalism and affect the protection of those willing to give information anonymously.
The Online Safety Bill will drive a better regulation of content that appears on the internet, with the aim of clamping down on fraud and online scams.
A new Media Bill will enable the planned privatisation of Channel 4 and allow Ofcom to regulate on-demand streaming services.
A Brexit Freedoms Bill will give ministers new powers to overhaul EU laws they copied over after the UK left the bloc.
The EU’s GDPR legislation could be replaced by a Data Reform Bill.
The Procurement Bill will replace EU rules on how the government buys services from the private sector.
A new Schools Bill will give the schools’ regulator powers to crack down on unregistered schools in England, and introduce attendance registers.
The Higher Education (Freedom of Speech) Bill will place new legal duties on English universities to ensure free speech on campus.
Energy and Environment
An Energy Security Bill will contain new powers aimed at boosting renewable energy.
If you have any questions as to how today’s speech affects you or your business, contact Downs Solicitors to see how we can help.