There are 38 bills in this year’s Queen’s speech, up from 30 last year, and they cover a wide range of government policies for the upcoming session.
It includes several bills that have been “carried over” from the previous session of Parliament because they have not yet received royal assent, giving ministers a packed timetable in the Commons and Lords in the next 12 months.
The bills, which this year will be read by Prince Charles, cover a variety of topics, including economic crime, schools, animal welfare, railway reform and energy security.
The speech also contains several commitments that are not presented as legislation, such as a coded reference to ongoing issues with the Northern Ireland Protocol and the cost of living.
Below is a summary of the 38 bills and what they mean.
Bill of Rights
Freedom of speech will be enshrined in a new British bill of rights to protect against ‘wokery’, political correctness and the advance of European-style privacy laws. The Bill will also restrict criminals’ ability to use human rights laws to evade deportation or secure their release from jail.
To curb the “incremental expansion of a rights culture,” a new “filter” will weed out “spurious” human rights cases before they get to court. All cases will have to get permission to be heard by the courts, with those deemed to be without merit barred from being put before judges.
National Security Bill
Spy laws will be updated to make it easier to prosecute leaks of official information not only to foreign powers but also terrorist groups and “entities” such as businesses controlled by a foreign Government. New offences will be introduced to tackle state-backed sabotage, foreign interference, the theft of trade secrets and assisting foreign spies.
People working for foreign states will have to declare their interests in a US-style register. Tougher powers will be introduced to crackdown on people preparing to spy. New civil measures will enable ministers to restrict the movements of a suspected spy.
Economic Crime Bill
Anyone running a UK firm will have to verify their identity with Companies House which will get greater powers to investigate and enforce rules. Law enforcement agencies will get powers to seize crypto assets often used in ransomware attacks. New civil orders will target criminals who cannot be prosecuted.
Modern Slavery Bill
All companies with a turnover of £36 million or more will have to publish an annual report on the steps they have taken to prevent modern slavery in their operations and supply chains.
Online Safety Bill
Major social media firms will face fines worth up to 10 percent of their global turnover if they fail to tackle illegal content getting onto their sites under reintroduced duty of care plans to protect users from online harms.
Draft Victims’ Bill
The victims’ code which includes a right to be told about the release of an offender from jail will be enshrined in law. It is also expected to give ministers the right to block the release of “high-risk” offenders from prison under overhaul of the parole board.
Draft Protect Duty Bill
Public venues will get a legal duty to provide “appropriate and proportionate” security against terrorist attacks under “Martyn’s law,” named after Martyn Hett who died in the Manchester Arena bombing.
Public Order Bill
Police will get powers to stop eco-protesters blocking roads and inflicting fuel shortages on motorists. A new offence of locking-on and going equipped to lock-on will criminalise protesters who attach themselves to people, objects or buildings. Offenders face up to six months jail. Police will get stop and search powers to check protesters for articles such as bike locks.
It will be made illegal to obstruct major transport works such as HS2 with up to six months jail. A new offence with a maximum year in jail will ban the obstruction of key national infrastructure such as airports, railways and newspaper printing presses. New orders will allow police to ban suspected troublemakers from attending specified events.
Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions Bill
Councils and other public bodies will be banned from introducing their boycott campaigns against foreign countries and their goods and services being sold.
‘Boycott, Sanction, Divest’ policies against Israel have been blamed for fuelling a rise in antisemitism. Lancaster and Leicester councils have passed motions supporting Israeli boycotts in recent years.
Higher Education (Freedom of Speech) Bill
Free speech legislation will apply to students’ unions for the first time and be strengthened for universities.
A complaints scheme for staff, students and visiting speakers who feel their speech has been restricted will be overseen by a new Director for Freedom of Speech, who also has powers to punish universities or students’ unions that break free speech rules.
Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill
The Government will be obliged to set ‘Levelling Up missions’ and report back annually. A ‘County Deal’ authority model allows local leaders to join up services.
Councils will have stronger powers to revive empty premises and residents get more say over street name changes, while al fresco dining is to become permanent.
The Media Bill confirms the privatisation of Channel 4, in order to “ensure [its] sustainability”. Public broadcasters’ content will become easier to find across smart TVs.
Ofcom will be given new regulatory powers through a ‘Video-on-Demand code’, covering platforms including Netflix and Amazon Prime, to protect viewers from “harmful material”.
Animal Welfare (Kept Animals) Bill
Exporting livestock to be fattened or slaughtered will become illegal, and zoos face new legal requirements to strengthen their conservation work.
Pet abduction will become a criminal offence, and pet travel measures are tightened in a crackdown on puppy smuggling. Importing dogs with cropped ears and docked tails will be banned.
The Schools Bill will remove barriers to faith and grammar schools becoming academies and introduce a new standards framework all multi-academy trusts must follow.
It will also introduce ‘children not in school’ registers, mandatory attendance policies, and a new funding formula applying the same criteria to all mainstream schools.
Energy Security Bill
This bill will extend the energy price cap and allow Ofgem to regulate heat networks. Ministers can now direct, fund and require information from fuel providers in a bid to boost resilience.
Green innovations will include new carbon capture business models, a hydrogen heating trial, and a “pro-innovation” fusion energy regulator.
Draft Mental Health Act Reform Bill
The Mental Health Act will be reformed so people are only detained when “strictly necessary”, and people can no longer be detained solely because of learning disabilities.
A ‘nominated person’ will replace a patient’s ‘nearest relative’, with patients having access to statutory care and treatment plans plus supervised community discharge.
A new body called Great British Railways will be established to run train services across the UK – although many rail powers are devolved in Scotland. There will still be a “significant role” for the private sector, but the new operator will have more control over services, revenue and planning.
Draft Digital Markets Bill
Companies will be required to alert customers with subscriptions before they auto-renew under this bill, while commissioning fake online reviews will become illegal. The bill proposes a new body called the Digital Markets Unit that will oversee competitiveness in digital products. Christmas savings clubs will be regulated for the first time.
UK Infrastructure Bank Bill
Ministers have already established a state-owned investment bank, with £22bn in assets, but it is not operational yet. The bill will get the bank up and running, releasing funding for the Government’s projects and allowing it to lend to local authorities. So far, priorities include levelling up and Net Zero.
Non Domestic Rating Bill
The Conservatives promised to simplify and improve the Government’s regime for business rates at the 2019 election. The bill would revalue commercial premises more frequently so businesses are paying the right tax and provide new reliefs for firms that invest in their properties or decarbonise.
Product Security and Telecoms Infrastructure Bill
Smart devices, including speakers and televisions, will be subject to tougher security requirements under plans in the bill. It will also make provision for increasing the speed of broadband rollout, including by reducing the number of sites needed to install new equipment.
Electronic Trade Documents Bill
Electronic documents for international trades between businesses will be put on the same legal footing as paper, which ministers believe will improve the speed and ease of trade across borders. It will involve updating legislation from 1882, but could save businesses five per cent on transaction costs.
High Speed Rail (Crewe-Manchester) Bill
The next leg of the Government’s flagship HS2 programme, which runs from Crewe to Manchester, will be built using powers in the bill, including to issue compulsory purchase orders for the land needed. The route also includes two new stations, at Manchester Airport and next to the existing Manchester Piccadilly station.
Draft Audit Reform Bill
The bill will commence a long-awaited overhaul of the UK’s auditing industry, by establishing a new regulator. The latest research suggests a third of company audits are substandard. The largest private companies working in the sector will also be designated “public interest entities” in recognition that ministers have a special interest in managing them.
Brexit Freedoms Bill 51
A Brexit bonfire of red tape will see up to 1,400 “messy” EU laws torn up at record pace as Boris Johnson pledges to turbocharge growth by ditching Brussels rules. Jacob Rees Mogg has been tasked with axing £1 billion of regulation, with sweeping new powers to remove “retained” European legislation from the statute book.
Procurement Bill 53
Cumbersome EU procurement rules will be shredded so the UK can “easily replicate the great success” of the lightning fast Covid vaccine rollout in future. No 10 will streamline the current system, inherited from Brussels, boosting small firms’ access to public contracts and encouraging ministries to buy British.
Financial Services and Markets Bill 55
Banks will have to keep high street branches and cash machines so people can access paper money in a move designed to protect the elderly and vulnerable. The PM also unveiled a crackdown on internet scams and that he’ll replace all EU financial services legislation with bespoke British rules to boost the City.
Data Reform Bill 57
Pettifogging EU data protection rules which promote “box ticking” over common sense will be wiped out, saving British businesses £1bn over the next decade. Replacing hated GDPR laws with a streamlined UK alternative will also improve public services like the NHS and turbocharge scientific research.
Trade (Australia and New Zealand) Bill 59
Boris Johnson will kick off Britain’s post-Brexit trade revolution with new laws to cement the first “from scratch” agreements with Australia and New Zealand. No 10 says the duo of deals, which remove 100% of tariffs on UK exports, will boost trade with both key allies by a combined £3.1 billion a year.
Genetic Technology (Precision Breeding) Bill 61
Britain is to become a global leader in the development of new crops that can survive climate change thanks to being free from the European Court of Justice. EU rules hampering research into precision bred plants and animals will be ripped up, allowing UK scientists to perfect the superfoods of the future.
Higher Education Bill
A new loan will entitle individuals to four years of post-18 education (equivalent to £37,000), including shorter and technical courses.
People wanting to access student finance will need to meet minimum qualification requirements, likely to include passing maths and English GCSEs, while some universities will have place numbers capped.
Social Housing Regulation Bill
The regulator will be allowed to intervene with landlords performing poorly on decency of homes or handling complaints, and to carry out inspections, ensuring quality accommodation.
New ‘Satisfaction Measures’ will let tenants see how their landlord compares to others, and fines for landlords failing to meet required standards will be capped.
Renters Reform Bill
Tenants will be protected through the abolition of ‘no fault’ evictions and a new Ombudsman for private landlords will allow disputes to be resolved more easily without going to court.
A new property portal is to remind landlords of their obligations, and the legally binding Decent Homes Standard will be applied.
Harbours (Seafarers’ Remuneration) Bill
After the P&O scandal, this Bill will ensure all ferry crews receive a fair wage by empowering ports to surcharge ferry operators that do not pay a national minimum wage equivalent.
Operators must also pay a fair wage to seafarers in UK territory and face sanctions or suspension if they do not comply.
Social Security (Special Rules for End of Life) Bill
This Bill amends the current legal definition of terminal illness to ensure thousands more people at the end of their lives can access certain benefits earlier.
Individuals considered as having 12 months or less to live, rather than the current six-month limit, will have their access to disability benefits fast-tracked.
Northern Ireland Troubles (Legacy and Reconciliation) Bill
A new Independent Commission for Reconciliation and Information Recovery enables individuals and their families to seek and receive information about deaths and serious injuries during the Troubles.
Only individuals who cooperate with this Commission will have immunity from future prosecution. The Bill will also establish an oral history of the Troubles.
Identity and Language (Northern Ireland) Bill
Designed to celebrate Northern Ireland’s national and cultural identities, this legislation will establish a new Office of Identity and Cultural Expression.
New commissioners will develop the Ulster Scots and Ulster British tradition and protect the use of the Irish language. The Irish language also receives official legal recognition in Northern Ireland.
Conversion Therapy Bill
The Conversion Therapy Bill will criminalise non-physical conversion therapies that are designed to change a person’s sexual orientation, and give courts new powers to protect those deemed at risk from this practice.
This will protect all under-18s, plus any over-18 who does not consent to conversion therapy. Trans conversion is not included.
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( Information from telegraph.co.uk was used in this report. To Read More, click here )