Saturday, 24 June 2017

The Queen's Speech: What is it and what happened?

The Queen made a speech in the House of Lords on Wednesday. In her speech was the government's plans on what they want to do over the next two years (would usually be one year, but Prime Minister Theresa May cancelled next year's Queen's Speech). Over the next week, Parliament will debate the Queen's Speech and vote on it. If the government loses the vote, then this is considered a vote of no confidence in the government, though a proper vote of no confidence may need to be passed before the government calls a new general election. However, it's unlikely that the government would lose the vote on the Queen's Speech, because they're forging a deal with the DUP, who have enough seats for them to win the vote.
In this particular Queen's Speech, there was no mention of plans to end free school lunches and replace them with breakfasts in primary schools, repeal the Fixed-Terms Parliaments Act (which would allow the Prime Minister to call an election whenever they want without the permission of Parliament), introducing a 'dementia tax' to pay for social care, and no mention of a bill allowing new grammar schools or plans for a free vote on lifting the fox hunting ban. All of these things were in the Conservative manifesto (their plans of what they would do after the election) but seem to have been abandoned by the minority Conservative government - presumably because they don't think they could've passed these measures, some of them (all of them?) controversial, through Parliament.
In the Queen's Speech were, however, lots of measures to ensure that the UK can function after Brexit, with powers that were held by the European Union now to be held by the UK. A series of bills were announced to ensure that the UK uses these new powers - on customs, trade, immigration, fisheries, agriculture, nuclear safeguards, and international sanctions. Announced plans for the economy were to ensure that there are electric car charging points in all motorway service stations and major fuel retailers, plans to allow more commercial spaceflights, plans on HS2, smart energy meters, simplify national insurance contributions, improve protection for holidaymakers, protect victims of domestic violence and abuse, crackdown on untrue whiplash claims and thus reduce motor insurance premiums, changes to how the courts work, creating a body responsible for coordinating the provision of debt advice, money guidance and pension guidance, give young people the right to require that social media platforms delete information held about them before they turned 18, and there are plans to set up an NHS body to investigate mistakes without an expensive lawyer-led inquiry.
On defence, the government proposes new opportunities for the army to serve in a way that helps them to better serve their family and that fits better with their life aspirations and their circumstances. Part-time service is included in this. On housing, the government pledges to ban letting fees, update mortgage laws from Victorian times. There are a few other miscellaneous bills planned too.
What do you think of the government's programme? Comment below!

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