Football, Crime And Energy At The Centre Of Final King's Speech Before Election
King Charles leaves Buckingham Palace for the King's Speech (Alamy)
The King’s Speech was read out by Charles III on Tuesday which set out the Government's priorities for the year ahead.
The speech focused on crime, energy independence, housing and football governance.
The King’s Speech marked the opening of Parliament, and will be the final session before the next general election, which must be called before the end of 2024.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is under pressure from Tory MPs to start “acting, not talking”. A Government source told PoliticsHome this speech would mark a crucial moment in an important month for the Prime Minister.
New measures to reform the criminal justice system were placed at the heart of the King’s Speech.
The government has said it will introduce a Sentencing Bill, which they claim will make sure murderers spend the “rest of their lives locked up”.
The King announced the Government would focus on building up Britain's oil and gas industry. Last month, the FT reported that the King’s Speech would include proposals to increase future oil and gas drilling in the North Sea. In October, The Observer reported that Sunak was keen to “double down” on anti-green policies. The paper claimed that the Government was keen to look at using more British oil and gas and reduce the UK's dependence on Russian energy exports.
A new independent football regulator was also announced in the King's Speech, after Culture Lucy Frazer, the Culture Secretary, and Stuart Andrew, the Sports Minister, have repeatedly pushed for it to be included.
The promise was in the Conservatives' 2019 manifesto, and follows Tracey Crouch MP’s fan-led review into reforming football governance. PoliticsHome reported the Government had already started hiring for a senior role to help launch the football regulator, which could be in place for the next football season in 2024/25.
The Renters' (Reform) Bill was also included in the King’s Speech after it received its second reading two weeks ago. The centrepiece of the Bill will look at abolishing no-fault evictions (Section 21), which charities such as Shelter have claimed can trigger homelessness.
Between 30 and 40 Tory MPs are believed to be unhappy with the proposed Bill and are planning to rebel.
In addition, a new Leasehold Bill was put into the King’s Speech. Government sources had told PoliticsHome they expected the government to commit to reforming the system. The new Bill is expected to prevent housebuilders from selling new homes as leaseholds, the Sunday Times reported.
However, the Guardian reported that new flats, which make up the majority of the market, will still be able to be sold as leasehold.
PoliticsHome understands there could be pressure from Conservative, Labour and Liberal Democrat MPs to extend this ban to all new flats.
A long-promised bill to ban gender conversion therapy was not included in the King's Speech, despite many Conservative MPs having previously lobbied the Prime Minister to include the ban in the King’s Speech.
Around 40 MPs have called for the Prime Minister not to include the ban in his speech – which would wipe out the Government’s majority.
Liberal Democrat Leader Ed Davey said he believed the King's Speech was full of "cheap gimmicks" and "reheated policies" and said the country was "crying out" for change.
“There was nothing but empty words on the biggest issues facing the country, from the NHS crisis to the sewage scandal," he said.
"There were no real solutions for patients left waiting months in pain for treatment, homeowners seeing their mortgages sky-rocket or communities seeing their local rivers ruined by sewage."
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