What was in the Queen’s Speech?
Brexit, immigration, and law and order take centre stage in new Parliament
The Queen today told Parliament that the Government’s priority is to leave the European Union on 31 October.
Watched by Boris Johnson, Her Majesty said the UK would seek a new relationship with the EU based on free trade and co-operation.
“This Queen’s Speech delivers on my promise as prime minister to get this amazing country of ours moving again,” said Johnson in a statement on the address, The Guardian reports.
People “don’t want to wait any longer to get Brexit done… so we are going to get the gears on our national gearbox working again” and “tear away that bureaucratic red tape”, he added.
Plans to curb violent crime and new policies on immigration, health and education were also included in the “long shopping list” of a speech, says the BBC’s political editor Laura Kuenssberg.
The Queen delivered her speech in line with tradition, arriving at the Palace of Westminster in a carriage procession before speaking from a throne in the House of Lords.–––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––For more political analysis - and a concise, refreshing and balanced take on the week’s news agenda - try The Week magazine. Get your first six issues free–––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––
A total of 22 new bills were set out in Parliament’s State Opening, in what Labour called a political “stunt”.
“Having a Queen’s Speech and a State Opening of Parliament is ludicrous,” said Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn. “What we have got in effect is a party political broadcast from the steps of the throne.”
The SNP’s Joanna Cherry said the speech was “an election manifesto for the Conservative Party, which will almost certainly be rejected in Scotland”.
Seven criminal justice bills were introduced, including longer prison time for serious offenders and greater protection for police officers.
The Guardian says Johnson is seeking to “thrust law and order” on to the agenda with his move to impose “drastically heavier penalties” on violent and sexual offenders, as well as convicted foreign nationals who return to the UK in breach of deportation orders.
Under the plans, these offenders would serve a minimum of two-thirds of their sentence before becoming eligible to be released on licence, compared to half under current guidelines.
Prison reformers have already warned that the plans could put staff in danger by reducing inmates’ motivation to behave well in the hope of securing an early release, while some barristers have also argued that current sentencing policies are sufficiently robust.
Perhaps less divisive will be the government’s proposed domestic abuse bill, which was carried over from the last Parliamentary session. If passed, it would allow victims to testify via video-link rather than in person. The proposal also suggests a revised legal definition of domestic abuse which states that abuse is “not just physical, but can be economic, emotional and coercive”.
Other measures in the speech included investment in the NHS, social care and mental health provision.
“Measures will be brought forward to support and strengthen the National Health Service, its workforce and resources, enabling it to deliver the highest quality care,” said the Queen.
She also announced the government’s intention to “ensure that all young people have access to an excellent education”.
New bills on employment and pensions schemes were introduced, along with bills supporting a new National Infrastructure Authority including telecommunications and air traffic legislation.
After the Queen’s Speech, the government published a 130-page briefing pack on the 22 bills mentioned.