On Tuesday 11 May, the Queen set out around 30 new laws that ministers intend to pass this year, including a number of bills carried over from the previous ‘session’, which ended in April. While some of the new legislation has been welcomed, others have been received more controversially. We’ve outlined the key proposals that could have the greatest impact on you.
- The Electoral Integrity Bill will require you to show photo identification (such as a driver’s license or passport) when you vote. While this Bill is being implemented to prevent election fraud, it has been criticised that it could impose a financial barrier to voting and cause further disengagement with politics.
- A Judicial Review Bill will set out the government’s plans to change how decisions can be challenged in courts. This will not affect individuals bringing claims against public bodies but will attempt to limit how far the judiciary can scrutinise the ‘merits’ of government policy.
Security and Safety
- The Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill has received a mixed response to sweeping changes to criminal justice. While the inclusion of some new laws have been welcomed, others have proved more controversial. The key points for you to know are that there will be longer sentences for more serious crimes and greater police powers extending to ‘stop and search’ orders and protests. Read more about this Bill here.
- The Online Safety Bill will implement new obligations on tech giants to combat dangerous and illegal content online. This will afford young and vulnerable people with greater protection against social media abuse.
- A new Victim’s Bill will create new rights for victims of crime. This is a much anticipated extension to the recently implemented Domestic Abuse Bill. This will enshrine the Victim’s Code in law, which sets out standards on support offered to sexual and domestic victims.
- New legislation will ban conversion therapy in England and Wales. LGBT campaigners have been disappointed that the ban will be delayed and potentially not as wide-ranging as originally hoped. This is because the government wants to hold a period of consultation to address “protecting the medical profession, defending freedom of speech, and upholding religious freedom”.
- Following the highly-criticised government race report, the Queen’s Speech outlined that new measures would be implemented to reduce racial and ethnic discrimination and disparity.
- The Planning Bill will implement changes to the planning system, and include a ‘zoning’ system. Local councils can divide land into areas of ‘growth’, ‘protection’, and renewal - making development easier in certain ‘zones’. Although this means the number of homes being planned will increase by more than a third and boost home ownership, there is some concern over ‘suburbanisation’ of the countryside.
- The Building Safety Bill will introduce a new system for regulating the safety of high multi-storey buildings and construction sites. This means that there will be enhanced fire and structural safety regulations for new and existing residential buildings. This is an extension to the recently implemented Fire Safety Act 2021 in response to disasters such as Grenfell.
- A number of Bills ranging from the extension of 5G mobile coverage and new safety standards for digital devices, to new powers to build new high-speed rail lines are set to become law.
- The Skills and Post-16 Education Bill will include a new ‘flexible loan’ to increase accessibility to further education. This will enable any adult access to a loan for higher-level education and training. This is another push to enhance access to skills and training across the country.
- The Higher Education (Freedom of Speech) Bill will mean universities and students’ unions have to comply with new legal duties to ensure speech on campus. This is being introduced to combat recent cases of ‘no-platforming’ of speakers and will mean those in breach could be fined.
- Three Bills will mean animals are recognised as ‘sentient beings’. This is most relevant to cat owners as it will be illegal not to microchip cats and kittens.
It should be noted that these Bills are what ministers intend to pass this year, but that does not mean they are law yet! They will need to pass through the House of Commons, the House of Lords, and go through multiple readings and amendments before they can be given Royal Assent and are enshrined in law.
Read the full transcript of the Queen’s speech here.
Many thanks to Samantha Ruston for this post.