Queen's Speech sets out Coalition government's final year agenda
Friday, June 6, 2014
Queen Elizabeth II formally reopened on Wednesday and announced the legislative agenda of the government for the final year of the Coalition's five year term. New measures introduced covered crime, the economy, energy and house building.
Business and economy
The next year of legislative changes would, the speech claimed, "deliver on [the government's] long-term plan to build a stronger economy and a fairer society". On economics, it promised the government would continue to lower taxes, produce an updated Charter for Budget Responsibility to "ensure that future governments spend taxpayers’ money responsibly", and continue reduction of the deficit.
On employment law, the Queen's Speech announced reduction in employment tribunal delays and plans to try and "improve the fairness of contracts for low paid workers" — a response to "zero-hours" contracts. Thesupport reforms to zero-hours contracts, specifically by removing "exclusivity" clauses. The speech also announced the introduction of a "collective pension" system similar to schemes in use in the .
The government is also to increase penalties on companies that do not pay employees minimum wage, and reformcontributions by self-employed people. The government also plans to extend the ISA and Premium Bond savings schemes and abolish the 10% tax rate on savings. The speech also promised more house building, and also to introduce legislation to reduce the use of plastic bags.
Crime and law
The speech announced the government would seek to pass a new Serious Crime Bill "to tackle child neglect, disrupt serious organised crime and strengthen powers to seize the proceeds of crime". Another bill will be introduced to deal with modernand and to support victims of these offences. The speech also said the government "will lead efforts to prevent sexual violence in conflict worldwide".
The Serious Crime Bill would also include an increase in the sentence for those who bring about "cyberattacks which result in loss of life, serious illness or injury or serious damage to national security, or a significant risk thereof". Under the, these are currently subject to a ten year prison sentence, but the punishment would now risk imprisonment for life. Punishment for cyberattacks that cause "a significant risk of severe economic or environmental damage or social disruption" would increase from the current ten year maximum tariff to fourteen years.
Jim Killock from thesaid existing laws already allow effective prosecution of those engaging in cyberattacks.
The speech also announced legislation would be introduced "to provide that where a person acts heroically, responsibly or for the benefit of others, this will be taken into account by the courts".
Constituents would be able to "recall" anwho had been found guilty of misconduct under a proposed law that will be debated. The Conservative MP described the current plans as "meaningless" and said voters had been "duped". The Bill would force a by-election if 10% of voters signed a petition within eight weeks, but only if a committee had decided the MP could be recalled. This latter requirement will make it "impossible to recall anyone" according to Goldsmith.
Business ministerdefended the recall proposals: "we have to protect MPs from being recalled by people who just disagree with them[...] What you have to ensure is an MP can't be hounded out just because people disagree with them back in their constituency."
Deputy Prime Ministersaid he agreed with Goldsmith the bill was not perfect, and he wanted "a radical California-style recall" system, but he had settled for a "modest" bill to satisfy "Conservative Party resistance". Goldsmith claimed Clegg had been "the architect of the current Recall Bill".
Tim Aker, head of policy for the, said: "The decision to only offer recall voting on a signed-off-by-Parliament-basis reflects a political class that does not know, does not trust and certainly does not represent its people."
The speech included measures to make it easier for businesses to engage in("fracking") of . The Institute of Directors said laws "must be updated if the UK is to enjoy the benefits of our shale potential", specifically by scrapping laws on to allow the gas extraction to occur. The also support such a reform: "While fracking may be unpalatable to some, it is absolutely essential, and business will support legislative measures to exploit Britain's shale gas deposits". Activists from fenced off Prime Minister home in with a sign reading "We apologise for any inconvenience while we frack under your home", and delivered a 50 cheque — identified as the maximum compensation suggested for property owners.
Simon Clydedale fromUK said of the fracking proposals: "The prime minister is about to auction off over half of Britain to the frackers, including national parks and areas of outstanding natural beauty like the Cotswolds. Fracking won't deliver energy on a meaningful scale for years, if ever, by which time we'll need to have moved away from dirty fossil fuels and towards high-tech clean power if we're to head off dangerous climate change."
, MP, spoke in opposition to the fracking proposals after the Queen's Speech: "Not only does this bill defy public opinion, it denies people a voice. To allow fracking companies to drill under people's homes and land without their permission is to ignore public interest in pursuit of the vested interests of a few." A poll conducted by found 74% of respondents opposed the plans.
Following the Queen's Speech, politicians from all parties debated the direction of the government in the year ahead.
Prime Ministersaid that the Queen's Speech showcased "a packed programme of a busy and radical government", whose "long-term economic plan is working but there is much, much more to do", and it would "take the rest of this Parliament and the next to finish the task of turning our country around".
leader said: "We would have a Queen's Speech with legislation which would make work pay, reform our banks, freeze energy bills and build homes again in Britain. A Queen's Speech which signals a new direction for Britain, not one which offers more of the same."
Cameron described Miliband as having a "rag bag, pick-and-mix selection of statist Seventies ideas [... a] revival of's policies paid for by 's money" — a reference to controversies surrounding the substantial funding Labour gets from trade union .
president said of the Queen's Speech: "I suspect the pensions proposals will be around for a generation or more and will be remembered. It's about making sure they are fairer, cheaper, more secure, more reliable and potentially better for people."
MP said: "This was an uninspired Queen's Speech delivered by a government that has well and truly run out of steam."
, the leader of the in Westminster, said the Queen's Speech barely mentioned : "The absence of any mention at all of the Westminster parties' plans for Scotland in the Queen's Speech is extraordinary. [...] In this – the year of the biggest opportunity in Scotland's history – Scotland hardly even gets a nod at Westminster, and not a single mention of future plans for improving government in Scotland."
The speech made brief mention of Scotland: "My government will continue to implement new financial powers for the Scottish Parliament and make the case for Scotland to remain a part of the United Kingdom."
- "Nick Clegg: I agree with critics of the Recall Bill" — , June 5, 2014
- David Maddox. "Independence referendum at heart of Queen’s speech" — , June 5, 2014
- "Queen's Speech 2014: The full transcript" — , June 4, 2014
- Zachary Davies Boren. "David Cameron’s house ‘fracked’ by Greenpeace" — , June 4, 2014
- Damian Carrington. "Queen's speech: fracking to get boost from trespass law changes" — , June 4, 2014
- Tom Brewster. "Life sentences for serious cyberattacks are proposed in Queen's speech" — , June 4, 2014
- "Voters 'duped over recall bill', says Zac Goldsmith" — , June 4, 2014
- "David Cameron hails 'busy and radical' Queen's Speech" — , June 4, 2014
- Louise Armistead. "Queen's Speech: IoD calls for trespass laws to be scrapped for fracking" — , June 3, 2014
- Tim Ross. "Ministers prepare radical pension reforms" — , May 31, 2014
- Fracking trespass law changes opposed by 74% of British public, poll finds" — , May 6, 2014