'One Nation' Queen's Speech gives boost to rural communities

making BUS journeys easier for passengers and kick-starting house building by ditching certain planning regulations were part of a Queen's Speech the Government believes shows commitment to the Northern Powerhouse.

Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh leave the House of Lords following her speech during the State Opening of Parliament at the Palace of Westminster in London. Alastair Grant/PA Wire

However clouded by the upcoming EU referendum and Tory infighting, the 15 minute speech was generally a modest offering 21 pieces of legislation designed to unite the Conservatives.

Nationally prison, adoption and education reform featured heavily as Prime Minister David Cameron continues to make social reform the theme of the Parliament.

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Addressing the House of Lords, Her Majesty said the current “One Nation” Government is increasing life chances for the most disadvantaged in society, while in the North of England she said prosperity would be achieved through the “development of the Northern Powerhouse”.

Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh leave the House of Lords following her speech during the State Opening of Parliament at the Palace of Westminster in London. Alastair Grant/PA Wire

Rural communities received a welcome boost with the legal commitment to roll out fast broadband of at least 10mbps, however the very remotest properties will still be expected to contribute to installation costs.

Ofcom will be ordered to release data that lets customers access information on speeds from different providers.

Rural schools which have long suffered from an unfair funding formula also received commitment that a new funding structure will be enshrined in law.

This is a major success for campaigner Graham Stuart, Conservative MP for Beverley and Holderness, who has long argued that urban schools take an unfair portion of the schools budget due to calculations made in the 1970s.

Government makes fresh pledges to ensure broadband rollout in the Queen's Speech. Fibre broadband cables have been laid along the High Peak Traill to provide high-speed internet access to rural villages

After years of council wrangling over bus services the Government has said they will give elected mayors in control of devolved combined authorities the power to introduce London-style franchises for local services.

This would see services come under control of one operator which can make ticketing easier.

The new plans spearheaded by transport minister Andrew Jones, the Conservative MP for Harrogate and Knaresborough, also asks companies to offer up information on routes, fares and times to help develop digital apps for smartphones.

A London-style bus service was first floated in the North East of England, however an independent board considering the measure found that operators could lose between £85 and £226 million and that the Government should consider paying them compensation.

Leeds Prison (Armley Jail), is the kind of Victorian era inner city prison the Government wants to target in their reforms. However it wasn't mentioned in the Queen's Speech this year.

This financial burden on already cash-strapped local authorities put a temporary halt to pursuing bus regulation and West and South Yorkshire have not followed in the North East’s footsteps.

However with much of Yorkshire not currently under a devolution deal agreed with the Treasury, it remains to be seen if this the buses bill offers up powers that help council leaders finally iron out a deal.

The Neighbourhood Planning and Infrastructure Bill may spur on the building of new homes in Yorkshire by reducing the emphasis on pre-commencement planning conditions.

This means people who have planning permission will no longer have to commit to dealing with contaminated land issues, submit archaeological assessments and adequately protect trees in every single case, before they start building. Previously, not meeting pre-commencement conditions would have voided a person’s planning permission.

Peter Lawrence the father of Claudia Lawrence, who went missing in York, reflects on what is now 2000 days without his daughter, during a press conference held at Bishopthorpe Palace, York. Picture James Hardisty.

Labour’s shadow energy minister Lisa Nandy said the Queen’s Speech offered very little for voters, was stuffed full of relaunched policies and revealed the “Government is running out of ideas” on the BBC’s Daily Politics programme.

However there was disappointment for Peter Lawrence, the father of York chef Claudia Lawrence who went missing in March 2009.

He had hoped that the Queen’s Speech would be the opportunity to unveil a Bill designed to help the families of missing people.

Commitment to this new ‘guardianship law’ has already been made by the Justice Secretary, however it is still to be put into action.

He said: “I am very disappointed that proposed Guardianship legislation did not feature in today’s Queen’s Speech.

“It was in March last year that the Government promised to proceed with this legislation “as quickly as possible” and the thousands of families waiting for it are not at all happy with the slow rate of progress.

Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh leave the House of Lords following her speech during the State Opening of Parliament at the Palace of Westminster in London. Alastair Grant/PA Wire

“I will continue to speak to Ministers and to press for the legislation to be introduced to Parliament at the earliest opportunity.”

The establishment of a British Bill of Rights still appears to be a distant ambition as the Government only made a fleeting reference to it during the Queen’s Speech.

Former cabinet minister and prominent Leave campaigner Iain Duncan Smith accused David Cameron of ditching the proposal altogether - along with other key elements of the Tories’ programme - in order to improve the chances of a Remain vote in the June 23 referendum.

Government makes fresh pledges to ensure broadband rollout in the Queen's Speech. Fibre broadband cables have been laid along the High Peak Traill to provide high-speed internet access to rural villages
Leeds Prison (Armley Jail), is the kind of Victorian era inner city prison the Government wants to target in their reforms. However it wasn't mentioned in the Queen's Speech this year.
Peter Lawrence the father of Claudia Lawrence, who went missing in York, reflects on what is now 2000 days without his daughter, during a press conference held at Bishopthorpe Palace, York. Picture James Hardisty.