Election 2017

Election 2017: Why Queen's Speech is a big test for May

Theresa May arrives back in Downing Street after forming a government Image copyright PA
Image caption The prime minister met the Queen on Friday to discuss forming a government

The first big parliamentary test for Theresa May's minority government will come at the end of the month when MPs vote on the Queen's Speech.

The Queen will open the new parliament on Monday 19 June and announce the government's legislative programme - a list of all the laws the prime minister hopes to get through parliament in the coming year.

MPs will spend six days debating these plans before a vote on 27 June. This, in effect, will be a vote of confidence in Theresa May's government and the first test of any deal with the DUP.

The first Queen's Speech following a general election would normally reflect the winning party's election manifesto. Typically, it would contain more proposals than in later years as victorious ministers seize the day.

This time things are a little different.

Theresa May leads a minority government which means she will need the support of the DUP to win key votes in the Commons and may have to offer policy changes in return for that backing.

The Conservatives are still the largest party in Westminster and saw their share of the vote increase but - in the wake of the election result - unhappy Tory MPs and candidates have criticised the party's manifesto calling it a "disaster" and "shockingly bad".

That lack of enthusiasm combined with a minority government could lead to a shorter, less ambitious Queen's Speech, as the government seeks to avoid parliamentary defeats.

Image copyright PA
Image caption The Speech, which is written by the government, varies in length every year

So plans to rethink the triple lock, which guarantees the state pension, could be shelved along with the proposal to means test winter fuel payments.

The most controversial part of the Tory manifesto turned out to be the policy on social care which critics were quick to label a "dementia tax".

During the election campaign, Mrs May said there would be a consultation on the plans to allow charities and others to give their views - an indication that there's unlikely to be an early change in the law.

Theresa May's enthusiasm for new grammar schools in England isn't shared by all Conservatives but would she risk a rebellion over the policy?

The lack of a parliamentary majority could also put a question mark over plans for a third runway at Heathrow.

Her announcement during the election that she planned to give MPs a free vote on repealing the fox hunting ban took many people by surprise.

As MPs would vote with their conscience rather than along party lines, the lack of a government majority shouldn't be a factor. But the promise was also included in the previous two Conservative manifestos without making it into the Queen's Speech.

The lack of a Commons majority might also make it difficult to get controversial policies through the House of Lords where peers could rewrite or reject legislation.

One proposal that we can expect to be included in the Queen's Speech is the so-called Great Repeal Bill which will transfer thousands of EU laws and regulations into UK law ahead of Brexit.

It's only one bill but earlier this year a report from the House of Commons library called it "the largest legislative project ever undertaken in the UK".

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