EXPLAINED: Everything included in Boris Johnson’s first Queen’s Speech

Posted On: 
14th October 2019

Legislation to deliver Brexit dominated Boris Johnson’s first Queen’s Speech as Prime Minister, which also had a strong law and order theme.

There were 22 bills in the Queen's Speech delivered in the House of Lords
Credit: 
PA Images

There are 22 bills listed in the Queen’s Speech itself, with several more in the accompanying documents, divided into seven categories:

* Delivering Brexit

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* Supporting the NHS

* Tackling violent crime and strengthening the justice system

* Ensuring fairness and protection for individuals and families

* Levelling up opportunity through better infrastructure, education and science

* Protecting the environment and improving animal welfare

* Other legislative and non-legislative measures

In his introduction, Boris Johnson said the legislative programme "delivers on my promise as Prime Minister to get this amazing country of ours moving again".

He claimed people are “tired of the statis, gridlock and waiting for change”, and that he is “going to get the gears on our national gearbox working again”.

Repeating his themes of delivering Brexit, investing in schools, improving hospital and recruiting more police officers, he added: “This is a programme that will set out our country on a new, upwards trajectory.

“At its heart is a new vision for Britain. A vision of a country happy and confident about its future. A vision of the country that we love.”

Here are the key elements of the Queen’s Speech:

Brexit:

The main focus is the European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill, the vehicle by which a Brexit deal with Brussels is turned into law, including arrangements for EU citizens’ rights, a protocol for Northern Ireland and a transition period.

As well as the that the Government will table legislation to deal with farming, fishing, trade, immigration and financial services once we leave the EU.

The Agriculture Bill will out in place a seven-year transition period to “gradually reduce direct payments” to farmers, but also create new payment schemes for [public goods including environmental protection, access to the countryside, and work to reduce flooding”.

The Fisheries Bill will replace the EU’s Common Fisheries Policy, the immigration bill will “bring an end to free movement in UK law” and allow for a new points-based system from January 2021, and the Financial Services Bill will “simplify the process which allows overseas investment to be sold in the UK”.

NHS:

The Government will build on September’s Health Infrastructure Plan to build 40 new hospitals, with a £33.9billion a year increase in NHS spending by 2023-24.

They will also set up the “world’s first independent body to investigate patient safety concerns” and put forward a medicines and medical Devices Bill to “make it simpler for NHS hospitals to manufacture and trial the most innovative medicines and diagnostic devices”.

There is also a commitment to do more for adult social care and mental health reform, but no concrete legislation on the issue.

Law and order:

With seven bills relating to criminal justice it is the biggest focus of the speech apart from Brexit, with the main legislation on sentencing, which would change the “automatic release point from halfway to the two-thirds point” for the most serious offences.

There is also a bill to impose tougher sentences on foreign offenders who return to the UK in breach of a deportation order, a bill to help tackle serious violence, and better protection for victims.

There are also changes to the parole system and new legislation to “recognise the bravery, commitment and sacrifices of police officers” and establish a Police Covenant.

And finally the Extradition (Provisional Arrest) Bill will allow officers to arrest the subject of an Interpol Red notice, wanted for a serious crime in another country, without having to apply to a court for a warrant first.

The police say this could be used to plug the gap if the UK is unable to use the European Arrest Warrant once it leaves the EU.

Ensuring fairness:

Boris Johnson has committed to carrying over the work done by his predecessor Theresa May in establishing a Domestic Abuse Bill, which creates statutory definitions of not just physical abuse, but emotional, coercive, controlling, and economic abuse.

A new bill will allow for “no-fault” divorces, while legislation about the “allocation of tips” is aimed at stopping employers from making deductions to gratuities and service charges passed on to staff.

There is a commitment to tackling online harms and introducing measures to reform employment law, as well as Pension Schemes Bill to simplify the operation ad oversight of savings schemes.

Not included in the speech but announced alongside it is the Windrush Compensation Scheme (Expenditure) Bill, which sets out a baseline cost of “approximately £200million” with around 15,000 eligible claimants.

Levelling up opportunity:

A new Telecommunications Infrastructure (Leasehold Property) Bill will lay the groundwork to “roll out gigabit capable broadband across the UK”, as well as funding to connect the hardest to reach 20% of the country.

Despite it being trailed the Government would scrap the rail franchise system, there is no legislation in the speech on the issue, but a commitment to publish a White Paper on the Williams Review later this autumn.

There are also two pieces of legislation on aviation reacting to recent issues, with one to deal with unmanned aircraft in airport airspace after drones shut down Gatwick in December.

And also powers to help get passengers home quicker if an airline goes bust, after the collapse of Thomas Cook saw the Government forced to help bring 150,000 holidaymakers home last month.

There will also be a White Paper on English devolution, and new plans on improving science and space technology, including changes to the immigration system to help with that.

Protecting the environment:

A new Environment Bill will set targets for emissions, help tackle air pollution and secure water resources, as well as “implementing mandatory biodiversity protections into the planning system”.

There will also be charges for “specified single use plastic items”, building ion the plastic bag fee, and the creation of a new Office for Environmental Protection.

Elsewhere there are a raft of animal welfare measures, increasing the maximum sentences for animal cruelty, legally defining animals as sentient, welfare improvements for transporting livestock, and a consultation on banning the import and export of trophies from hunting endangered species.

Other legislative measures:

Voters will have to show ID to cast their ballots under new legislation, which will also aim to tackle postal and proxy ballot fraud, as well as helping improve access to disabled voters.

There is a also a Birmingham Commonwealth Games Bill to assist the city in its bid for the 2022 event, and a Historical Institutional Abuse (Northern Ireland) Bill to provide victims a form of redress and access compensation.

Other non-legislative measures:

There is a pledge to review the fiscal framework ahead of next months’ budget, and a commitment to the Union and “upholding the constitutional integrity of the United Kingdom”.

The Government is pledging I restore the power-sharing executive in Northern Ireland, as well as the 2% of GDP spending commitment to NATO and the establishment of The Office for Veterans’ Affairs.

The speech also sets out the UK will “continue to play a leading role globally”, on security, international development and climate change.

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The full list of bills read out by Her Majesty was as follows:

1. European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill

2. Agriculture Bill

3. Fisheries Bill

4. Trade Bill

5. Immigration and Social Security Co-ordination (EU Withdrawal) Bill

6. Financial Services Bill

7. Private International Law (Implementation of Agreements) Bill

8. Health Service Safety Investigations Bill

9. Sentencing Bill

10. Foreign National Offenders Bill

11. Prisoners (Disclosure of Information About Victims) Bill

12. Serious Violence Bill

13. Police Protections Bill

14. Extradition (Provisional Arrest) Bill

15. Domestic Abuse Bill

16. Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Bill

17. Employment (Allocation of Tips) Bill

18. Pension Schemes Bill

19. Telecommunications Infrastructure (Leasehold Property) Bill

20. Air Traffic Management and Unmanned Aircraft Bill

21. Environment Bill

22. Animal Welfare (Sentencing Bill)

And here are those not in the speech but in the supporting documents:

Medicines and Medical Devices Bill

Sentencing (Pre-consolidation Amendments) Bill

Windrush Compensation Scheme (Expenditure) Bill

High Speed Rail 2 (West Midlands – Crewe) Bill

Birmingham Commonwealth Games Bill

Historical Institutional Abuse (Northern Ireland) Bill