Category: Queen (1)

The Queen has announced the government’s legislation for the year ahead, at the state opening of Parliament. Here is a bill-by-bill guide to what is in the 2016 Queen’s Speech.

Digital Economy Bill (UK-wide)

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  • Every UK household will have legal right to a fast broadband connection
  • Minimum speed of 10Mbps to be guaranteed through Broadband Universal Service Obligation
  • Properties in the “remotest areas” may have to contribute to cost of installation
  • New code to cut the cost of building mobile phone masts and broadband cables
  • Right to automatic compensation when broadband service goes down
  • Companies must get consent before sending promotional spam emails, with fines for transgressors

Modern Transport Bill

  • Measures to encourage investment in driverless cars, electric cars, commercial space planes and drones (Great Britain only)
  • Ensuring insurance is available to users of driverless cars (Great Britain only)
  • Updating Air Travel Organiser’s Licence (Atol), the UK’s financial protection scheme for holidays (UK-wide)

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Neighbourhood Planning and Infrastructure Bill (England and Wales)

  • Pre-commencement planning conditions to be streamlined to speed up housing developments
  • Local communities to have more say over neighbourhood planning
  • Changes to make compulsory planning orders “clearer, fairer and faster”
  • A new statutory framework for paying compensation, based on market value of land
  • National Infrastructure Commission to be put on statutory footing
  • Consultation on future of Land Registry with a view to privatisation

Local Growth and Jobs Bill (England only)

  • Framework to be put in place to enable local authorities to retain 100% of business rates levied
  • New powers to be devolved to local authorities to be set out in law
  • Combined authority mayors to have scope to levy business rate supplement to fund infrastructure projects

Better Markets Bill (UK-wide)

  • Measures to make it easier for customers to switch banks and energy providers
  • Competition and Market Authority recommendations for energy competition to be implemented
  • Speeding up competition investigations and giving regulators more powers

Bus Services Bill (England only)

  • Combined local authorities with elected mayors to have power to franchise local services
  • Operators will be required to share route, fare and schedule data with app developers
  • Councils to set standards for ticketing, branding and frequency of services
  • Clearer and simpler franchising arrangements

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NHS Overseas Visitors Charging Bill

  • Overseas migrants and visitors will be charged for NHS services they are not entitled to
  • Tighter residency rules mean fewer visitors from the European Economic Area will be able to access free health care
  • “Full cost” of treating overseas patients to be recovered and ploughed back into NHS
  • Not yet clear whether this applies to entire UK

Pensions Bill

  • Better protection for people paying into multi-employer pension schemes known as Master Trusts (Great Britain only)
  • Master Trusts to have to meet new criteria and be subject to closer supervision (Great Britain only)
  • Capping early exit fees charged by trust-based occupational pension schemes (Great Britain only)
  • Pension Advisory Service, Pension Wise and Money Advice Service to be merged into single body (UK-wide)
  • New financial advice body to be created (UK-wide)

Children and Social Work Bill (England only)

  • Adoption procedures to be speeded up
  • Councils required to tell children leaving care what services they are entitled to
  • All care leavers to have right to personal adviser to the age of 25
  • A new social work regulator to focus on training and professional standards
  • A duty on councils and schools to promote educational achievement for adopted children

Education for All Bill (Mainly England only)

  • Powers to convert under-performing schools in “unviable” local authorities to academies
  • Goal of making every school an academy but no compulsion to do so
  • Head teachers, not councils, to be responsible for school improvement
  • A new national funding formula for schools
  • Schools to be responsible for assisting excluded pupils

Higher Education and Research Bill (Mainly England only)

  • Removing barriers for new universities to be set up and for existing providers to get university status
  • New Teaching Excellence Framework to focus on raising standards
  • Universities to be required to publish detailed admissions data on ethnicity, gender and socio-economic background

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Prison and Courts Reform Bill (England and Wales)

  • New “reform” prisons to be opened, with emphasis on training, rehabilitation and education
  • Governors of new prisons to have freedom to agree service contracts and establish their own boards
  • More statistics on post-release offending and employment rates to be published
  • Courts and tribunals to be modernised, with greater use of technology to reduce delays

National Citizen Service Bill (Discussions with devolved administrations)

  • New statutory framework to deliver the National Citizen Service
  • All state secondary schools, academies, private schools and councils required to promote NCS

Lifetime Savings Bill (UK-wide)

  • Help to Save scheme announced in Budget to help those on low incomes build up “rainy day fund”
  • Those in work but getting certain benefits who put aside £50 a month will see it matched by state
  • New Lifetime ISA for under-40s to be introduced, offering £1,000 tax-free payment each year for those saving £4,000

Small Charitable Donations Bill (UK-wide)

  • Gift Aid Small Donations scheme to be changed following a public consultation
  • Aim to increase benefits of scheme for new and smaller charities, including amateur sports clubs
  • Clarify rules concerning how charities connected with community buildings can benefit

Counter-Extremism and Safeguarding Bill (England and Wales)

  • A new civil order regime to be introduced to restrict extremist activity
  • New powers of intervention to tackle radicalisation of children in “unregulated education settings”
  • Government to step in where councils fail to tackle extremism, subject to consultation
  • Ofcom to have power to regulate internet-streamed material from outside EU

Criminal Finances Bill (UK-wide)

  • New criminal offence making companies liable for stopping their staff facilitating tax evasion
  • Changes to laws on the proceeds of crime, to make it easier for the police and courts to recover criminal assets
  • The Suspicious Activity Reports regime to be refocused, with emphasis on tackling systemic money laundering

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Cultural Property Bill (UK-wide)

  • The UK to ratify the Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the event of armed conflict
  • Dealing in cultural property illegally exported from occupied territory to be made criminal offence
  • Property protected under the convention and its protocols to be identified by new Blue Shield

Wales Bill (Wales only)

  • Clarification of the division of powers reserved to UK Parliament and those devolved to National Assembly of Wales
  • Devolving powers over energy, transport and elections, including voting age, to Welsh Assembly
  • Repeal of requirement for referendum prior to devolution of income tax powers
  • Draft bill was published in October 2015

Intellectual Property Bill (UK-wide)

  • Change the law relating to unjustified threats of legal action in cases involving patents, trade marks and design rights
  • Make it easier for companies to settle intellectual property disputes out of court
  • Exempting lawyers and other professional advisers from liability for threatening legal action in certain cases
  • Subject to consultation and report by the Law Commission

Draft Law of Property Bill

  • Response to Law Commission report on simplifying land ownership

High Speed Rail Bill

  • Give government the legal powers to build high-speed rail network between London and the West Midlands

Investigatory Powers Bill

  • Overhaul of laws governing how the state gathers and retains private communications or other forms of data to combat crime
  • Broadband and mobile phone providers will be compelled to hold a year’s worth of communications data
  • Creation of new Investigatory Powers Commissioner

Policing and Crime Bill

  • Closer collaboration between the emergency rescue services
  • Overhaul of the police complaints and disciplinary systems
  • A ban on under-18s being held in police cells as a “place of safety”

Bill of Rights (Subject to consultation)

  • Plans for a British bill of rights to replace the Human Rights Act will be published in “due course” and subject to consultation
  • Proposals for a new framework of human rights, based on those set out in the European Convention on Human Rights
  • Bill of rights also to take into account UK’s “common law tradition”

Soft Drinks Industry Levy (UK-wide)

  • New levy on producers of drinks with added sugar content to come into force in April 2018
  • Measure to be included in 2017 Finance Bill
  • Money raised will be used to increase funding for school sports, after-school activities and breakfast clubs

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