The Queen’s Speech 2019 – Brexit, crime, infrastructure and the environment take centre stage

October 14, 2019 Charles Cummins

Getting Brexit done, strengthening the NHS, addressing crime, investing in infrastructure and tackling the climate emergency were the key themes to this year’s Queen’s Speech, in what could be the first of two visits by the Queen to Parliament this year, if a general election is held in the next few months. Please find below our summary, taken from the Queen’s speech itself and the Cabinet Office’s accompanying background briefing notes:

Delivering Brexit

  • EU (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill – secure the UK’s departure from the EU on 31st October, working towards a new partnership with the EU based on free trade and friendly cooperation.
  • Agriculture Bill – reform UK agriculture policy, putting the interests of farmers and land managers, the environment and taxpayers at its core, replace the current subsidy system, support farmers and land managers to ensure a smooth and gradual transition away from the bureaucratic Common Agricultural Policy, and set out the framework for a new Environmental Land Management scheme.
  • Fisheries Bill – deliver more sustainable fisheries for future generations, enshrine in primary legislation the powers to control access to UK waters and more effectively manage fisheries in the longer term, and provide powers for the Devolved Administrations to manage their fisheries in the way that works for them and their industries.
  • Trade Bill – make the most of new opportunities that come from having an independent trade policy after Brexit, delivering for UK businesses and consumers by: rolling over trade agreements with third parties, ensuring access to procurement opportunities under the Government Procurement Agreement, and protecting them from unfair trade practices or unforeseen surges in imports.
  • Immigration and Social Security Co-ordination (EU Withdrawal) Bill – bring an end to free movement in UK law to ensure that the Government can deliver a new points-based immigration system from 2021, make EU citizens arriving after January 2021 subject to the same UK immigration controls as non-EU citizens, and clarify the immigration status of Irish citizens once the free movement migration framework is repealed.
  • Financial Services Bill – ensure that the UK maintains its world-leading regulatory standards and remains open to international markets after Brexit.
  • Private International Law (Implementation of Agreements) Bill – maintain and strengthen the UK’s role as a world leader in delivering justice across borders on civil and family justice issues, and make it easier for UK individuals and families who become involved in international legal disputes to access justice.

Supporting the NHS

  • NHS Long Term Plan – bring forward measures to support and strengthen NHS, enabling it to deliver highest quality care and in due course publish draft legislation that will accelerate the Long Term Plan for the NHS.
  • Health Service Safety Investigations Bill – establish the world’s first independent body to investigate patient safety concerns and share recommendations to prevent incidents occurring.
  • Medicines and Medical Devices Bill – ensure that the UK remains at the forefront of the global life sciences industry after Brexit, giving patients faster access to innovative medicines and supporting the growth of our domestic sector, and allow the UK to take a lead role in global research to find cures for rare diseases and improve treatments for patients around the world.
  • Social care – consult on a 2 per cent precept that will enable councils to access a further £500 million for adult social care, and bring forward substantive proposals to fix the crisis in social care to give everyone the dignity and security they deserve.
  • Mental Health – continue work to reform the Mental Health Act to improve respect for, and care of, those receiving treatment.

Tackling violent crime and strengthening the criminal justice system

  • Sentencing Bill – ensure that the most serious violent and sexual offenders spend more time in prison to match the severity of their crimes, and tackle repeat and prolific offenders through robust community orders.
  • Foreign National Offenders Bill – introduce measure to improve the justice system’s response to foreign national offenders
  • Victims – bring forward proposals to ensure that victims receive the support they need and the justice they deserve.
  • Prisoners (Disclosure of Information about Victims) Bill – introduce laws to ensure parole system recognises the pain to victims and families caused by offenders who refuse to disclose information relating to their crimes.
  • Serious Violence Bill – create a new duty on a range of specified agencies across different sectors, such as local government, education, social services, youth offending, and health and probation, to work collaboratively, share data and information, and put in place plans to prevent serious violence.
  • Police Protections Bill – recognise the bravery, commitment and sacrifices of police officers and ensure they are able to fully conduct their duties by providing them with additional support and protection.
  • Extradition (Provisional Arrest) Bill – give police officers the powers they need to tackle transnational crime and pursue international criminals.
  • Sentencing (Pre-consolidation Amendments) Bill – make technical changes to the law, paving the way for the Law Commission’s Sentencing Code which will consolidate the law on sentencing procedure in England and Wales.

Ensuring fairness and protections for individuals and families

  • Domestic Abuse Bill – transform the response to domestic abuse to better protect victims and their children, ensuring they have the support they need and that offenders are brought to justice.
  • Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Bill – remove issues that create conflict within the divorce process and introduce a minimum timeframe before the court makes a conditional divorce order so that couples are encouraged to be as constructive as possible
  • Online harms – continue to develop proposals to improve internet safety, publishing draft legislation based on the consultation on the April 2019 Online Harms White Paper.
  • Employment (Allocation of Tips) Bill – promote fairness for workers by creating legal obligations on employers to pass on all tips to workers in full and, where they distribute tips amongst workers, to do so on a fair and transparent basis.
  • Employment reform – continue to deliver on the commitments set out in the Good Work Plan, ensure employment practices keep pace with modern ways of working and productivity is enhanced, increase fairness and flexibility in the labour market by stopping employers and workers experiencing significantly different outcomes from flexible forms of working, and strengthen workers’ ability to get redress for poor treatment.
  • Pensions Schemes Bill – legislate to provide greater powers to tackle irresponsible management of private pension schemes, and create a legislative framework for the introduction of pensions dashboards to allow people to access their information from most pensions schemes in one place online for the first time.
  • National security and investment legislation – strengthen the Government’s existing powers to scrutinise and intervene in business transactions (takeovers and mergers) to protect national security, and provide businesses and investors with the certainty and transparency they need to do business in the UK
  • Windrush Compensation Scheme (Expenditure) Bill – ensure the Windrush Compensation Scheme is underpinned by the necessary parliamentary authority.
  • Building safety standards legislation – put in place new and modernised regulatory regimes for building safety and construction products, ensuring residents have a stronger voice in the system.

 ‘Levelling up’ opportunity through better infrastructure, education and science

  • Education Funding – ensure that all young people have access to an excellent education, unlocking their full potential and preparing them for the world of work
  • National Infrastructure Strategy – bring forward a National Infrastructure Strategy to set out a long-term vision to improve the nation’s digital, transport and energy infrastructure
  • Telecommunications Infrastructure (Leasehold Property) Bill – legislate to accelerate the delivery of fast, reliable and secure broadband networks to millions of homes.
  • Air Traffic Management and Unmanned Aircraft Bill – provide for the effective and efficient management of the United Kingdom’s airspace .
  • Airline insolvency legislation – Protect passengers in the event of an airline going bust by reforming the insolvency process.
  • Railway reform – publish a White Paper on the Williams Review recommendations later this autumn, and start implementing reforms from 2020, prioritising improvements for passengers
  • Devolution in England – bring forward a white paper to set out the Government’s ambitions for unleashing regional potential in England, and to enable decisions that affect local people to be made at a local level.
  • Science, space and infrastructure – establish the United Kingdom as a world-leader in scientific capability and space technology; increase investment in science and develop a new funding agency, more open visa system and ambitious national space strategy.
  • High Speed Rail 2 (West Midlands – Crewe) Bill – provide the powers to build and operate the next stage of the High Speed Two (HS2) network (Phase 2a).

Protecting the environment and improving animal welfare

  • Environment Bill – legislate to improve air and water quality, tackle plastic pollution, restore habitats, create new legally-binding environmental improvement targets and establish a new independent regulator to scrutinise environmental policy and law.
  • Animal Welfare (Sentencing) Bill – bring forward proposals to promote and protect the welfare of animals, including banning imports from trophy hunting.

 Other legislative measures

  • Electoral integrity – take steps to protect the integrity of democracy and the electoral system in the United Kingdom.
  • Birmingham Commonwealth Games Bill – Provide a small number of temporary measures essential to the successful operation of the 2022 Commonwealth Games.
  • Historical Institutional Abuse (Northern Ireland) Bill – work with all parties in Northern Ireland to support the return of devolved Government and to address the legacy of the past.

Other non-legislative measures

  • Public finances – underpin the Government’s new economic plan with a responsible fiscal strategy, investing in economic growth while maintaining the sustainability of the public finances.
  • The Union – bring forward measures to support citizens across all the nations of the United Kingdom.
  • Northern Ireland governance – work to restore the devolved power-sharing government in Northern Ireland.
  • The Armed Forces – continue to invest in the Armed Forces, and honour the Armed Forces Covenant and the NATO commitment to spend at least two per cent of national income on defence.
  • Foreign Affairs – ensure that it continues to play a leading role in global affairs, defending its interests and promoting its values.

To read the full Queen’s Speech and the Government’s background briefing, click here