The Conservatives are ready to enjoy the first Queen’s Speech all of their own making since 1996. HM The Queen will lay out David Cameron’s legislative programme Wednesday in a speech that is expected to deviate little from the Tory manifesto.
David Cameron has already announced details of his cornerstone policy, allowing the British people a referendum on membership of the European Union. The bill is expected to be published in full on Thursday, and will make clear EU nationals living in the UK cannot vote.
An Immigration Bill is expected to put further limits on immigration from outside the EU. During the election the Conservatives pledged to make it a criminal offence to work while living in the UK as an illegal immigrant.
The bill will also have provisions to make it easier for local councils to shut down properties that are overcrowded with immigrants. In many cases the tenants are expected to live in sub-standard sheds in the back garden of the properties. Some boroughs in London report having entire streets filled with these types of tenements.
There will be a reduction in the benefits cap. The maximum amount one household can claim will drop from £26k to £23k a year, and will come alongs side a commit to full employment. David Cameron also pledged to introduce a law guaranteeing no rise in income tax rates, VAT or national insurance before 2020. He also plans to abolish income tax for anyone on the minimum wage who works 30 hours a week or less.
A Police Bill is also likely to be included in the speech. It will overhaul complaints procedures, and limit the use of police cells to lock-up the mentally ill. The most significant change is likely to be in the area of police bail.
There have been widespread calls to the limit the time the police can leave suspects on police bail. This follows revelations that people can wait years to be given ‘no further action’ or charged. Campaigners have claimed the long waits fall disproportionately on those who have very weak cases against them and are assumed to be much more likely to be innocent of the crimes they have been accused of.
David Cameron is likely to have a fight on his hands over the European Convention on Human Rights (Abolition) Act, A number of left-wing figures on the Tory benches have expressed their unwillingness to toe the party line on the subject. With a majority of just twelve and every other party against the government this could be the bill that fails.
Another controversial bill is on the repeal of the Hunting Act, which is likely to be a free vote. The Tory manifesto stated that the government “will give Parliament the opportunity to repeal the Hunting Act on a free vote, with a government bill in government time”. The parliamentary mathematics is such that the bill is unlikely to succeed.
The prime minister’s press spokesman confirmed that the Queen’s Speech would be based on the manifesto. He told journalists: “The prime minister has just spent 5/6 weeks campaigning on the Conservative Manifesto, in tomorrow’s Queen’s Speech you will see that being very directly put into legislative practise.”
He went on to describe the government as “determined to get on with the mandate the British people have given it.” However, there are likely to be a few ‘surprises’, one wildcard bill thrown in at the last minute is the commitment to ban “legal highs”. Banning all legal highs will involve a substantial rewrite of existing drugs legislation.