Belfast Telegraph

UK Website Of The Year

Home News UK

Queen's Speech 2016: Government will work to implement both Fresh Start and Stormont House agreements

Follow the live updates of the State Opening of Parliament below

The Queen has said that her Government will continue to work to implement the Fresh Start and Stormont House agreements in full in Northern Ireland as she gave her speech during the State Opening of Parliament.

She also set out plans for the biggest shake-up of Britain's prison system since the Victorian era and announced that proposals would be brought forward for a British Bill of Rights.

Queen's Speech: How it unfolded

Government will work to implement both Fresh Start and Stormont House Agreements.

Proposals will be brought forward for a British Bill of Rights.

Modern Transport Bill - Clears way for new spaceports, driverless cars and drones.

Neighbourhood Planning and Infrastructure Bill - Reforms planning system and gives new powers for people to shape developments in their home areas.

Local Growth and Jobs Bill - Gives councils powers to keep and invest 100% of business rates, and to vary their level.

Better Markets Bill - Makes it easier for utility customers to switch providers.

Bus Services Bill - Gives elected mayors powers over buses.

NHS (Overseas Visitors Charging) Bill - Recovers cost of NHS treatment from non-UK residents.

Pensions Bill - Removes barriers to accessing pension savings.

Children and Social Work Bill - Speeds up adoptions and gives guarantees of more support for children leaving care.

Education for All Bill - Allows for expansion of academy programme.

Higher Education and Research Bill - Supports the establishment of new universities.

Prison and Courts Reform Bill - Gives new freedoms to governors to run their own jails.

National Citizen Service Bill - Expands the volunteering scheme for young people and puts it on a permanent footing.

Lifetime Savings Bill - Establishes a Help to Save scheme and Lifetime ISAs.

Soft Drinks Industry Levy - Introduces new tax on sugar-rich fizzy drinks from April 2018.

Small Charitable Donations Bill - Helps charities and community groups increase fundraising powers.

British Bill of Rights - Consultation on proposals to replace the Human Rights Act.

Counter-Extremism and Safeguarding Bill - Tackles extremism, including by intervening in unregulated schools and consulting on new civil order powers to restrict radical activities.

Criminal Finances Bill - Introduces criminal offence for companies which fail to stop staff facilitating tax evasion.

Cultural Property (Armed Conflicts Bill) - Allows the UK to sign up to international convention protecting cultural artefacts in war zones.

Wales Bill - Establishes new devolution settlement for Wales.

Digital Economy Bill - Creates new right to high-speed broadband for every household.

'One Nation Queen's Speech'

Prime Minister David Cameron described the package as a "One Nation Queen's Speech from a progressive, One Nation, Conservative Government", using the opportunities presented by Britain's strengthening economy to increase life chances for the most disadvantaged.

The speech, delivered by the Queen amid the traditional lavish ceremony of the State Opening of Parliament in the Palace of Westminster, would usually be a central focus of the political calendar.

But this year it provides a brief respite from the battle over Britain's EU membership, and its relatively modest contents reflect the extent to which the Prime Minister's political energy is concentrated on the referendum on June 23.

With intense scrutiny on the struggle which is dominating Westminster and setting Conservatives against one another, the Queen made only the briefest of direct references to her Government holding "a referendum on membership of the European Union".

But - in what may be seen as an attempt by Mr Cameron to signal that remaining in the EU does not mean giving up the UK's independence - she added: "My ministers will uphold the sovereignty of Parliament and the primacy of the House of Commons."

A roster of 21 new bills sets out plans to give prison governors new powers to control their own jails, as well as an overhaul of education and rehabilitation programmes which ministers described as the "biggest reform of our prisons since Victorian times".

A Higher Education and Research Bill will make it easier to open new universities, and the academy schools programme will be expanded by an Education for All Bill - though not extended to every school in England as Mr Cameron initially planned.

Court guidelines will be altered by a Children and Social Work Bill in favour of permanent adoptions, and children in care will be given a new "covenant" setting out local authorities' duties to help them with housing, jobs and healthcare after they leave care.

A raft of measures in a Counter-Extremism and Safeguarding Bill is designed to crack down on extremism, including stronger powers to disrupt radicals' activities and to intervene in unregulated schools which are "teaching hate". Ministers will consult on a new civil order regime to restrict extremist activity.

As expected, the speech set out plans for a British Bill of Rights to replace the Human Rights Act and included legislation to establish the Help to Save scheme and Lifetime ISA to encourage saving.

It also confirmed the Government's intention to renew the UK's Trident nuclear deterrent system, though ministers gave no clue on whether a vote on new submarines - which could potentially split Labour - will take place during the coming year, stating only that one can be expected before the next general election.

Measures to boost the economy included an Infrastructure Bill to speed the planning process and a Local Growth and Jobs Bill to allow councils to keep and invest all the business rates they raise. A Digital Economy Bill will make it easier and cheaper for telecommunications providers to establish faster broadband and more comprehensive mobile networks.

In a statement released as the Queen delivered her address to MPs and peers in the House of Lords, Mr Cameron said: "This is a One Nation Queen's Speech from a One Nation Government. It sets out a clear programme of reform, using the strength of our economy to deliver security for working people, increase life chances for the most disadvantaged and strengthen our national security."

Read More

Popular

From Belfast Telegraph