UK Politics

Queen's Speech 2015: What we can expect, bill-by-bill

The Queen and Prince Philip during the 2010 State Opening of Parliament Image copyright Getty Images

The Queen's Speech on 27 May will set out the the government's legislative plans for the parliamentary session ahead. What can we expect to feature?

EU Referendum Bill

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This is high up on the list of the government's priorities. David Cameron has promised to renegotiate Britain's terms of membership of the European Union and put it to a public vote by 2017 at the latest. To do this he'll need to publish a parliamentary bill to pave the way for a referendum - so it's a definite to feature in the speech.

Income Tax Bill

During the general election campaign, David Cameron vowed to introduce a law guaranteeing no rise in income tax rates, VAT or national insurance before 2020. He said workers already paid enough tax and he would focus on other ways of clearing the deficit, such as reducing the welfare bill and tackling tax avoidance. The PM has also pledged a law to ensure that "no one working 30 hours on the minimum wage pays any income tax at all". Writing in the Sunday Telegraph about his first 100 days in office, he said: "It is a permanent measure to re-write not just the laws of this country but the values of this country. And it will be there as the centrepiece of the first Queen's Speech of my new government."

Immigration Bill

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The government is promising a crackdown on illegal immigration, and has already set out a number of new offences to try to "control and reduce" migration to the UK. These include a specific offence of illegal working - with police given the power to seize the wages paid to illegal workers as the "proceeds of crime". Among other proposals being considered are new powers for councils to deal with unscrupulous landlords and to evict illegal migrants more quickly, while all foreign criminals awaiting deportation will be fitted with satellite tracking tags. It will also become an offence for businesses and recruitment agencies to hire abroad without first advertising in the UK - a policy which featured prominently in Labour's election manifesto - and a new enforcement agency will be set up to tackle what the prime minister called "the worst cases of exploitation".

Policing Bill

Home Secretary Theresa May has pledged to ban the use of police cells for the emergency detention of mentally ill people under the Mental Health Act. In a speech to the annual conference of the Police Federation in England and Wales, Mrs May also outlined plans to extend police-led prosecutions, overhaul the complaints system, and change the use of bail.

City Devolution Bill

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We know that proposals to devolve more powers to England's cities will feature in the Queen's Speech. Chancellor George Osborne said as much in first post-election speech, in which he outlined his vision to give English cities powers over housing, transport, planning and policing. He said Greater Manchester - which will take on the powers when electing a mayor in two years - should become a blueprint for other large cities.

Strike laws reform

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The new business secretary, Sajid Javid, has said it will be a government priority to reform strike laws. Specifically, it is proposing to ban strike action from taking place unless 40% of all eligible union members vote in favour of industrial action. The government also wants to lift a ban on use of agency staff when strike action takes places. "That's something we'll give more detail on in the Queen's Speech but it will be a priority," Mr Javid told BBC Radio 4's Today programme earlier this month.

Employment Bill

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The Conservatives have said measures on work will be at the heart of their legislative programme, with David Cameron saying during the election campaign that the UK should aspire to "full employment". He has pledged legislation on "day one" of the new Parliament. Among the priorities will be a push to create two million more jobs and three million more apprenticeships over the course of the Parliament. The boost in apprenticeships is to be paid for by reducing the benefit cap from £26,000 to £23,000.

Schools Bill

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The prime minister has pledged to bring in a bill to "deliver better schools - with more radical measures to ensure young people leave education with the skills they need". He said the legislation will "include new powers to force coasting schools, as well as failing schools, to accept new leadership, continuing the remarkable success story of Britain's academy schools". The Conservatives want to expand their free schools programme - which Labour opposes, with Mr Cameron committing to creating an extra 270,000 free school places by 2020.

Childcare Bill

Another stated key priority of the Conservative government is childcare. Currently, all three and four-year olds in England are entitled to 570 hours of free early education or childcare a year, which works out as 15 hours each week for 38 weeks of the year. During the election campaign, the Conservatives promised 30 hours from 2017. The prime minister has also said he wants to introduce tax-free childcare for every child.

Enterprise Bill

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The government has outlined plans for a bill to cut red tape for British business by at least £10bn and, for the first time, independent regulators will be expected to contribute to that target. The bill is also expected to propose a new Small Business Conciliation Service, to help settle disputes between small and large businesses, especially over late payment practices.

Scotland Bill

The prime minister has pledged to include a bill on devolution which would be based on the cross-party Smith Commission agreement on Scottish devolution. The Smith proposals included giving Holyrood the power to set income tax rates and bands, as well as control over a share of VAT and some welfare benefits.

Human Rights Act Repeal Bill

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The Conservatives have pledged to abolish the Human Rights Act and replace it with a British Bill of Rights. The Conservative manifesto says: "This will break the formal link between British courts and the European Court of Human Rights, and make our own Supreme Court the ultimate arbiter of human rights matters in the UK."

Counter-extremism Bill

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The government is expected to bring forward a new bill to crack down on radicalisation. It will include new immigration rules, powers to close down premises used by extremists, and "extremism disruption orders". Mr Cameron has repeatedly stressed the need to confront and defeat the "poisonous" extremist ideology. The proposals are likely to encounter some opposition in the new Parliament on the grounds that some of the plans could infringe people's right to free speech, BBC home affairs correspondent Danny Shaw said.

Communications and Data Bill

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This was the bill that the Conservatives' smaller coalition partners, the Liberal Democrats, refused to back in the last Parliament. Current legislation expires in 2016 and will have to be renewed. So now the Conservatives are governing alone, they can bring back what opponents call the snoopers' charter. The previous plans proposed to extend the range of data communications companies have to store for 12 months. It would have included, for the first time, details of messages sent on social media, webmail, voice calls over the internet and gaming, in addition to emails and phone calls. Officials would not have been able to see the content of the messages without a warrant. Currently communications firms only retain data about who people send emails to, and who they ring.

Housing Bill

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Housing was a hot topic during the general election, featuring in all of the parties' campaigns. One of the Conservatives' key pledges was an extension of Margaret Thatcher's Right to Buy scheme to 1.3 million housing association tenants in England - and the government has confirmed this will feature. Under the plans, housing association tenants will be able to buy the homes they rent at a discount. Communities Minister Greg Clark told the BBC the government wanted to extend the opportunity for people to own their home. There will also be help for first-time buyers, with 200,000 starter homes made available to under-40s at a 20% discount - another Conservative manifesto pledge.

NHS Bill

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The Conservatives made several commitments on the NHS during the election campaign - and David Cameron used his first major post-election speech to focus on his plans for the health service in England. He has pledged to boost funding by at least £8bn extra a year by 2020 and to create "a truly seven-day NHS". The government is also promising to recruit 5,000 new GPs.

Wales Bill

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David Cameron has pledged to implement "as fast as I can the devolution that all parties agreed for Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland". Wales Secretary Stephen Crabb has said his officials were writing legislation to transfer further powers to Wales, so these could be included in the Queen's Speech.

Hunting Ban Repeal Bill

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Could David Cameron throw a bone to his Conservative backbenchers and introduce legislation to repeal the law that bans fox hunting with dogs? The ban has been unpopular in many rural areas since its introduction by Labour in 2004 - and David Cameron has indicated he would like to undo it. Their manifesto stated that a Conservative government "will give Parliament the opportunity to repeal the Hunting Act on a free vote, with a government bill in government time".

Legal highs ban

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Legislation to introduce a blanket ban on so-called legal highs is expected to feature in the Queen's Speech. The proposal was included in the Conservatives' general election manifesto, which stated: "We will create a blanket ban on all new psychoactive substances, protecting young people from exposure to so-called 'legal highs'." A Home Office source told the BBC that the proposal would be enacted upon.

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