Live coverage: State Opening of Parliament
The last State Opening of Parliament was on October 14.
The second Queen’s Speech of Boris Johnson’s premiership confirms his aim to put the health service at the heart of the Government’s legislative programme – alongside moves to finally force through Brexit by the end of January.
It is just 66 days since the Queen was last asked to conduct the State Opening of Parliament on October 14.
Today’s ceremony is more low key than the one in October, with cars used instead of carriages and the monarch wearing a hat instead of a crown.
The Government will work to abolish the Fixed-term Parliaments Act that sets out when general elections must be held.
The Government will also continue to work to meet environmental targets to halt the climate crisis.
The Queen said: “My Government will continue to take steps to meet the world-leading target of net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.
“To protect and improve the environment for future generations, a Bill will enshrine in law environmental principles and legally-binding targets, including for air quality.”
The Queen said: “My Government is committed to a fair justice system that keeps people safe.
“My ministers will establish a Royal Commission to review and improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the criminal justice process.
“New sentencing laws will ensure the most serious violent offenders, including terrorists, serve longer in custody.”
She added: “My ministers will bring forward measures to ensure that every part of the United Kingdom can prosper.”
The Queen said: “Measures will be brought forward to encourage flexible working, to introduce the entitlement to leave for unpaid carers and to help people save for later life.
“New measures will be brought forward to protect tenants and to improve building safety.
“My Government will take steps to support home ownership, including by making homes available at a discount for local first-time buyers.”
The monarch said steps would be taken to “grow and support” the NHS’s workforce with a new visa to ensure qualified doctors, nurses and health professionals have fast-tracked entry to the United Kingdom”.
And she said: “My ministers will seek cross-party consensus on proposals for long term reform of social care.
“They will ensure that the social care system provides everyone with the dignity and security they deserve and that no-one who needs care has to sell their home to pay for it.”
The Queen also said the Government would bring forward measures to support working families, raising the National Insurance threshold and increasing the National Living Wage, as well as increasing per pupil funding in schools.
The Queen, addressing both Houses of Parliament, said her Government’s priority is to “deliver the United Kingdom’s departure from the European Union on the 31st January”.
“My ministers will bring forward legislation to ensure the United Kingdom’s exit on that date and to make the most of the opportunities that this brings for all the people of the United Kingdom.
“Thereafter, my ministers will seek a future relationship with the European Union based on a free trade agreement that benefits the whole of the United Kingdom. They will also begin trade negotiations with other leading global economies.
“The integrity and prosperity of the United Kingdom is of the utmost importance to my Government. My ministers will work urgently to facilitate talks to restore devolved Government in Northern Ireland.
“My Government will embark on an ambitious programme of domestic reform that delivers on the people’s priorities. For the first time, the National Health Service’s multi-year funding settlement, agreed earlier this year, will be enshrined in law.”
Today’s speech will include 25 Bills.
The Queen has taken her seat and asked for the MPs to be summoned to the Lords’ chamber.
Black Rod Sarah Clarke is carrying out the symbolic process of having to bang her cane three times on the doors to the Commons after they were slammed in her face.
She commands the Speaker to bring the MPs across to the Lords to attend the Queen.
For those keen watchers of the Commons, this is the first speech in a long time without veteran Bolsover MP Dennis Skinner heckling from his front seat. Mr Skinner lost his seat last week after 49 years.
This is the 68th Queen’s Speech of Elizabeth II’s reign, and the 66th to be delivered by her in person.
Speaker Lindsay Hoyle was greeted as he arrived in the House of Commons with a whistle from one of the MPs. It is Mr Hoyle’s first State Opening of Parliament, as John Bercow was still in the chair in October.
The Queen is wearing a green dress and coat with matching hat. She is accompanied by the Prince of Wales in morning dress.
The Queen has arrived at the Palace of Westminster and the Union Flag has been lowered on the building and now replaced by the Royal Standard to signify the Queen has arrived.
The Queen has begun her journey by car down The Mall from Buckingham Palace to the Houses of Parliament. In October she had to leave 10 minutes earlier to take into account the slower speed of her carriage procession.
Meanwhile, MPs in the House of Commons are waiting to be summoned to the Lords.
Black Rod, the House of Lords official, will see the doors to the Commons shut in her face – in one of the more unusual traditions of the State Opening – as she arrives to summon MPs shortly.
It is a practice that dates back to the Civil War and is said to symbolise the Commons’ independence from the monarchy. Black Rod has to strike the door three times before it is opened.
— House of Lords (@UKHouseofLords) December 18, 2019
The Queen is travelling by car for this speech, rather than by carriage. The first vehicle in her advanced convoy carries the royal crown.
The crown will not be worn during the speech, instead it will be placed on a cushion near the Queen as a symbol of her authority.
Another car has carried the ancient symbols of the Cap of Maintenance and the Sword of State.
The Prime Minister has left Downing Street by car to travel the short distance to the Houses of Parliament.
The Queen is expected to leave Buckingham Palace shortly.
— House of Lords (@UKHouseofLords) December 19, 2019
The Queen's arrival, the Royal Procession to the #HouseofLords chamber and Black Rod's summons of the @HouseofCommons for the #QueensSpeech. Watch how #StateOpening happens https://t.co/Uay9l1SATc pic.twitter.com/JxSZwr4f7a
The Queen’s Speech is also expected to include proposed legislation to:
– Implement the UK’s future relationship with the EU;
– See terrorists spend longer behind bars;
– An additional £1 billion for social care every year of the new Parliament;
– Increased levels of funding per pupil in schools;
– Abolish hospital car parking charges for “those in greatest need”;
– Make it easier for hospitals to manufacture and trial innovative medicines;
– Bring in an independent body to improve patient safety;
– A cut in business rates from April.