The UK parliament today heard The Queen’s Speech, which sets out the UK government’s ambitions for the next parliamentary term. The speech must be approved by a majority of sitting MPs in the UK’s House of Commons in order for Her Majesty’s government to show it has the cooperation and ability to govern. The Queen’s speech is prepared by Ministers of the Crown, and this is the first Conservative-only Queen’s Speech that has been addressed to the Commons in nearly 2 decades.
The speech began with reference to ‘a one nation approach‘ a term that has been closely associated with Conservative politics in the UK since its first use by Benjamin Disraeli 170 years ago, and is seen by many as a divisive term, which in the current political atmosphere may even be understood as the rule of ‘England‘ over its sister nations in the United Kingdom.
The speech promised that there would be an ‘EU referendum before the end of 2017′, perhaps surprising many who would have expected an earlier date, and giving no reference to what actual question may be put to UK and Commonwealth voters in such a referendum.
Interestingly, the speech also delayed plans to scrap the Human Rights Act, instead mentioning that ‘proposals‘ will be brought forward on a British Bill of Rights.
In total, the speech refers to some 26 Bills that will be introduced during the course of this parliament. Other points included:
- More devolution for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and „English votes for English laws“ at Westminster
- Cutting the total amount one household can claim in benefits from £26,000 to £23,000
- A ban on income tax, VAT and national insurance increases for five years
- More free childcare
- The ‘right-to-buy‘ for housing association tenants
In addition the speech seeks to make strike action more difficult via a Trade Unions Bill, which would impose a 50% turnout threshold on strike ballots, with a further requirement in essential public services for strikes to be supported by 40% of those entitled to vote.
You can view the full text with short analysis of the key points here.