Queen’s Speech: the key measures you need to know about

HERE are some of the key measures in the first Conservative-only Queen’s Speech in nearly two decades ...
Queen Elizabeth II arrives in a carriage at the Houses of ParliamentQueen Elizabeth II arrives in a carriage at the Houses of Parliament
Queen Elizabeth II arrives in a carriage at the Houses of Parliament

• EU Referendum Bill

The centrepiece of the Government’s programme, this sets out plans to hold a decisive in-out vote on British membership of the EU by the end of 2017.

The issue promises to be the main political talking point over the next two years, and the timing, electorate and other details will be hotly contested.

• National Insurance Contributions Bill/ Finance Bill

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These bills will be used to implement a guarantee that there will be no rises in rates of income tax, VAT or National Insurance before 2020.

Separate measures will ensure no-one working 30 hours on the minimum wage will pay income tax.

• Full Employment and Welfare Benefits Bill

Creates new requirements for ministers to report to Parliament on their progress in delivering full employment and 3 million new apprenticeships.

Also lowers the cap on total annual household benefits from £26,000 to £23,000 and extends the freeze on working-age benefit rates.

• Scotland Bill

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Legislation to implement further devolution to Scotland. The Prime Minister has met with First Minister Nicola Sturgeon to discuss further devolution beyond what was proposed by the Smith Commission in the wake of last year’s independence referendum.

David Cameron earlier said he could consider ‘’sensible suggestions’’ on what additional powers could be transferred north.

• Trade Unions Bill

The Government is planning to toughen the law on strike ballots by introducing a 50% threshold on voting turnouts before a strike can go ahead.

New laws will be introduced to stop public sector strikes going ahead unless they have the support of 40% of workers eligible to vote.

• Housing Bill

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The legislation will implement the Conservatives’ key election pledge to extend the Right to Buy scheme to 1.3 million housing association tenants, giving them the same opportunities as council housing tenants to buy their homes at a discount.

• Cities and Local Government Devolution Bill

Chancellor George Osborne has promised a “revolution” in the way England is governed, with elected mayors presiding over far greater powers in major cities.

He hopes to extend his Northern Powerhouse vision, calling on other urban areas to follow the example of Greater Manchester in taking advantage of new powers.

• Childcare Bill

Extends entitlement to 30 hours a week of free childcare to working parents of three and four year-olds.

• Energy Bill

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Gives local communities the final say on applications to develop wind farms.

• Immigration Bill

New measures to crack down on illegal working and to ensure immigrants facing deportation are required to make any appeal after being returned to their homelands.

• Education and Adoption Bill

Paves the way for the creation of 500 new free schools and the transformation of “coasting” schools into academies. Also creates regional adoption agencies working across council boundaries to speed the placing of children.

• Enterprise Bill

At least £10 billion is to be cut from business red tape over the next five years, while a Small Business Conciliation Service will be created to help resolve disputes.

• Extremism Bill

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Creates new banning orders, disruption orders and closure orders to tackle groups and individuals who promote “messages of hate”.

• Investigatory Powers Bill

Provides police and intelligence agencies with tools to target online communications of terrorists and other subjects of interest.

• Psychoactive Substances Bill

Introduces ban on so-called “legal highs” by making it an offence to produce, import or supply substances capable of having a psychoactive effect on humans.

• Northern Ireland (Stormont House Agreement) Bill

Implements the agreement sealed at Stormont House last year, including the creation of a Historical Investigations Unit.

• Wales Bill

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Clarifies the division of powers between Westminster and the devolved assembly in Cardiff, with new powers over energy, transport and local government elections devolved to Wales.

• Votes for Life Bill

Scraps the current 15-year limit after which British citizens living abroad lose voting rights in general elections and European Parliament elections.