The Queen’s Speech: overview
28 May 2015, Blog
Today, Wednesday 27th May, Her Majesty the Queen delivered her 62nd Queen’s Speech during the State Opening of Parliament. In a ceremony filled with the usual pomp and constitutional custom (although one which this year didn’t include a jibe from veteran MP Dennis Skinner) she outlined the new Conservative government’s legislative agenda.
This is the first Conservative Queen’s Speech in nearly two decades and, with a party boasting a majority of just 12, was incredibly ambitious. Bold even. David Cameron has lined up a parliamentary agenda to include 25 government bills, these include ban on tax increases, right-to-buy for housing association tenants, freezing benefits, increased free childcare, a “truly seven day” NHS and the introduction of a controversial ‘snooper’s charter’. A prominent element however, will be the equally controversial and highly-debated set of constitutional proposals, which include more devolution for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, in addition to “English votes for English laws” at Westminster. The pinnacle of this offer is of course the ground being laid for an in/out referendum on Britain’s membership of the EU, which will take place by 2017.
Mr Cameron also used the speech as an opportunity to adopt a Labour buzzword from the previous parliament, “One Nation”, but we don’t expect him to be bringing in a tombstone anytime soon. He declared that this is “a Queen’s Speech for working people”. Today’s policy agenda is a real teaser about what to expect from this parliament, as Cameron must attempt to appease a broad church with a slim majority. The debate over Europe will continue but his decision to commit to a referendum by 2017 will have done much to relieve eurosceptics within the party. Whilst his decision to exclude the repeal of the Human Rights Act from the Queen’s Speech is likely to have pleased and angered Conservative MPs in equal measures… some Conservatives might be missing their Liberal Democrat friends as they have to do business with many of the rebels from the last parliament.