Pared back Queen's Speech sees Government promises to level up across UK but lack of clarity on promised social care reforms

Government promises to “level up” across the UK were highlighted in a pared back Queens’ Speech this morning at Westminster.

In a speech delivered in the House of Lords to a much smaller audience than usual, the government’s priorities were laid out for the next year.

Among them were new pieces of legislation to tackle election fraud which will require voters to present photo ID at polling booths, to “innovate and embrace technology” in the NHS and to launch an advanced research facility.

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But promises to reform the social care system, made by Boris Johnson on the steps of Downing Street when he became Prime Minister, received only a brief mention in the speech, which is written for the Queen by government.

In a speech delivered by the Queen in the House of Lords to a much smaller audience than usual, the government’s priorities were laid out for the next year.

Her Majesty said: “My government's priority is to deliver a national recovery from the pandemic that makes the United Kingdom stronger, healthier and more prosperous than before.

“To achieve this, my government will level up opportunities across all parts of the United Kingdom, supporting jobs, businesses, and economic growth and addressing the impact of the pandemic on public services.”

The Queen’s Speech is steeped in ceremony and tradition, but much of the usual pomp was pared back in today’s proceedings.

Usually garbed in robes trimmed with ermine, the Queen today delivered her speech in a simple lilac day dress. The Imperial State crown, encrusted with 3000 jewels, was displayed on a table next to her rather than worn.

She was accompanied by Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall in her first public appearance since the funeral of the Duke of Edinburgh last month.

Around 30 pieces of legislation promised in the speech include:

- A Health and Care Bill to better integrate the NHS and social care systems.

- A Planning Bill to make it easier to build new homes, schools and hospitals.

- New laws to scrap the Fixed-term Parliaments Act, meaning it will be easier for Mr Johnson to call an early general election before 2024.

- A Counter-State Threats Bill to introduce a US-style register of foreign agents to help counter espionage and influence from hostile governments.

- The return of the controversial Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill, which saw demonstrations over concerns that it would curtail the right to protest when it was last before Parliament.

- A Higher Education (Free Speech) Bill giving regulators the power to fine universities or students' unions in England if they fail to protect freedom of expression.

The Government also promised a "levelling-up White Paper" setting out how Mr Johnson intends to meet the promises made to voters in former Labour-voting areas.