Queen's Speech 2012 at-a-glance: Bill-by-bill
- 10 May 2012
- From the section UK Politics
The Queen's Speech has set out the government's legislative plans for the next year. Here are details of what is in it:
Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill
A wide-ranging Bill covering competition, employment disputes, director's pay and regulatory reform. Competition enforcement will be strengthened by merging the Competition Commission and parts of the Office of Fair Trading. A Green Investment Bank will be established to promote private sector investment in a greener economy. Reforms the employment tribunal system by providing more options for the early resolution of disputes through Acas. On Director's pay, shareholders will be allowed a binding vote on the remuneration of directors. This Bill applies to the whole of the UK, but with some parts relevant to England, Wales or Scotland only.
Read more: Bill aims to lift economic growth
Read more: Scottish reaction including Green Bank
Banking Reform Bill
Will ensure that banks which want to provide retail banking services will only be able to do so if these services are ring-fenced from the investment activities of the bank. Reduces the risk to the taxpayer of a bank going bust by making sure those who have money deposited in bank accounts are given priority over other creditors. This Bill will apply to the whole of the UK.
Read more: Banks to be ring-fenced
Groceries Adjudicator Bill
Will establish a Groceries Code Adjudicator to enforce the Groceries Code. This makes sure the largest retailers, such as the big name supermarkets, treat their suppliers fairly. This will be a UK wide Bill.
Small Donations Bill
Provides a new system of top-up payments similar to Gift Aid for small cash donations to charities. For donations of less than £20, charities will be able to claim back 25p for every £1 collected in the UK, up to a limit of £5,000. This Bill will apply to the whole of the UK.
Reforms the electricity market to encourage more investment in low carbon generation and clean energy. Puts more restrictions on the emissions of new coal plants and creates a new independent regulator, the Office for Nuclear Regulation, funded by the industry. The Bill will affect England and Wales with the majority of proposals also applying to Scotland and Northern Ireland.
Draft Water Bill
Allows for greater freedom of public bodies and business to choose their water supplier and will make water companies more responsive to the needs of customers. Reforms will mainly apply to England and Wales but will also allow for a joint water and sewerage retail market with Scotland.
Read more: Meters 'missing from water bill'
Brings forward the state pension age to 67 between 2026 and 2028 and reforms the state pension system to make it simpler and more sustainable as people live longer. This legislation will be for England, Scotland and Wales only.
Read more: Flat-rate state pension prepared
Public Service Pensions Bill
Implements controversial reforms to public sector pensions. Moves public sector pensions over to a career average scheme and extends the age at which members can draw their pensions. The Government says this will make them sustainable, with costs shared between employers, workers and taxpayers 'more fairly'.
Draft Local Audit Bill
Aims to save money and increase local accountability and transparency in England. Abolishes the Audit Commission and sets out new arrangements for the audit of local public bodies.
Children and Families Bill
Covers lots of areas including adoption, family law and parental leave. Changes to the rules on adoption will make race considerations less important than finding a child a permanent home quickly. Families will get more choice on education for pupils with special educational needs. Parents will be given access to flexible leave to allowing greater sharing of caring responsibilities. On family law, there will be a six month deadline to complete care cases and if families break up, the law will be strengthened to make sure children continue to have a relationship with both parents if it's in their best interests. All the changes will apply to England, but some such as flexible working will also apply to Scotland and Wales. On adoption, the government says it will discuss with the Welsh government about extending the reforms into Wales.
Read more: Families feature in Queen's Speech
Draft Care and Support Bill
An England-only Bill that aims to modernise adult care and make access to support clearer and more equal. This will include giving people greater choice and making councils adapt the services they offer to people's needs and experiences.
Read more: Draft social care bill announced
Electoral Registration and Administration Bill
Introduces individual voter registration and makes it easier for people to register to vote. This legislation will apply primarily to England, Scotland and Wales.
Read more: Voter registration faces overhaul
House of Lords Reform Bill
Bringing democracy to the House of Lords to ensure the majority of its members are elected. The size of the chamber will be substantially cut. The reforms are expected to be controversial and debate on the plans has already begun.
Read more: Battle begins over Lords plans
Crime and Courts Bill
Establishes a National Crime Agency to take the lead on organised crime, enhance border security and fight cyber crime. Allows TV cameras into courtrooms "in limited circumstances". Driving under the influence of drugs will be made a specific offence. Judicial appointments will be reformed to increase transparency and diversity. The Bill mostly applies to the whole of the UK with a few exceptions.
Read more: Court television plan revealed
Will introduce changes to defamation law which will rebalance freedom of expression with a person's ability to protect their reputation. Defamation will only have occurred if "serious harm" has been caused. This is meant to discourage trivial claims. Rules will also be tightened to avoid 'libel tourism'. Changes will be made in England and Wales only.
Read more: Law on defamation to be reformed
Justice and Security Bill
Strengthens oversight of MI5 and MI6 and allows courts to consider sensitive information with national security implications through the limited use of closed proceedings. These changes will impact across the whole of the UK.
Draft Communications Bill
Will allow the police and intelligence agencies to collect data on communications, like texts and emails, flexible to changes in technology, such as the internet. This will apply UK wide.
Read more: Data surveillance plan outlined
European Union (Approval of Treaty Amendment Decision) Bill
Approves the creation of the European Stability Mechanism, a permanent means to support Eurozone countries in trouble. Exempts the UK from a new European bailout agreement between eurozone countries.
Read more: End to UK euro bailout exposure
Croatia Accession Bill
Parliamentary approval for Croatia to join the EU and allows for immigration to the UK from the new member to be controlled.
...but what didn't make it into the government's programme?
Despite having the support of David Cameron, legislation to allow gay marriage will not be brought forward in the next parliamentary session. Ben Summerskill, Chief Executive of the gay rights group Stonewall, said they would "fight on to push both coalition parties to deliver on their promise to implement this measure by 2015." The Home Office said it was committed to introducing same sex marriage, but a consultation on the issue was still ongoing and it was never intended to be included in this Queen's Speech.
Recall of MPs
Conservative MP Zac Goldsmith has voiced concerns that there was nothing in the Queen's Speech on the recall of errant MPs. He tweeted "How can Govt expect to 'rebuild trust' if it so casually drops key promises?". The government has promised they will introduce such a power. They produced a draft bill at the end of last year, which set out plans for constituents to be able to recall their MPs if 10% of them signed a petition. But this will not be brought before Parliament in the next session.
The government has recommitted to reaching the long-held target of spending 0.7% of GDP on overseas but stopped short of bringing in a bill to enshrine this pledge in law. It had promised to do so in the coalition agreement. Development charity ActionAid said it was "disappointing" but they "expect the coalition to keep its promises".
Higher Education Bill
Labour MP David Lammy criticised the government's lack of a Higher Education Bill, which was expected to increase the involvement of the private sector in university education. He said they had left students facing uncertainty with the issue "kicked into the long grass."
High Speed Rail
The Transport Secretary Justine Greening defended the absence of a bill to ensure the high speed rail link from London to Birmingham begins construction. She promised "next year will be spent preparing the bill" adding "we have to go through a process before a bill can be presented to parliament".
Regulation of lobbyists
In his response to the Queen's Speech, Ed Miliband accused the government of failing to act on parliamentary lobbying by not including any measures to tackle it. Despite three scandals, there was no Bill, he said.