The first Tory-only Queen’s Speech in nearly two decades is being unveiled Wednesday. Here are some of the key measures expected to feature in the package.
• EU Referendum Bill.
The centrepiece of the Government’s programme, this will set out plans to hold a decisive in-out vote on British membership of the EU by 2017. The issue promises to be the main political talking point over the next two years, and the timing, electorate and other details will be hotly contested.
• Bill of Rights.
Proposals to replace the Human Rights Act (HRA) with a Bill of Rights are being keenly anticipated by some Conservative backbenchers. Critics claim the HRA has been exploited by criminals and terrorists, while giving judges in Europe the power to overrule British laws and judicial decisions. But the Government is sure to face substantial resistance.
• Scotland Bill.
Legislation to implement further devolution to Scotland will feature. The Prime Minister has met with First Minister Nicola Sturgeon to discuss further devolution beyond what was proposed by the Smith Commission in the wake of last year’s independence referendum. David Cameron earlier said he could consider ‘’sensible suggestions’’ on what additional powers could be transferred north.
• Housing Bill.
The legislation will implement the Conservatives’ key election pledge to extend the Right to Buy scheme to 1.3 million housing association tenants, giving them the same opportunities as council housing tenants to buy their homes at a discount.
• Devolution Bill.
George Osborne has promised a “revolution” in the way England is governed, with elected mayors presiding over far greater powers in major cities. Legislation enabling the changes are anticipated to be at the heart of the Queen’s Speech as part of the Chancellor’s plan to help areas outside London rival the capital. He hopes to extend his Northern Powerhouse vision, calling on other urban areas to follow the example of Greater Manchester in taking advantage of new powers.
• Income Tax Bill.
Legislation is expected that will guarantee no rises in income tax, VAT or National Insurance before 2020, and a promise that no-one working 30 hours on the minimum wage will pay income tax.
• Enterprise Bill.
Business Secretary Sajid Javid has said an Enterprise Bill would help to create two million jobs and boost small businesses. At least £10 billion is to be cut from business red tape over the next five years. Mr Javid said the Government wanted to “sweep away burdensome red tape, get heavy handed regulators off firms’ backs and create a Small Business Conciliation Service to help resolve disputes”.
• Strike laws reform.
The Government is planning to toughen the law on strike ballots by introducing a threshold on voting turnouts before a strike can go ahead. New laws will be introduced to stop public sector strikes going ahead unless they have the support of 40% of workers eligible to vote. And turnout will have to reach at least 50% of those entitled to vote for a strike to go ahead. It is also expected to prioritise proposals to allow employers to hire agency staff to fill gaps left by workers who have gone on strike.