DAVID Cameron embarks on a “One Nation Government” today with a Queen’s Speech he promised will end the UK’s status as “a two-speed country”.
The Queen unveiled the first Conservative legislative programme for more than 20 years with a speech focused on delivering much of the Tory party manifesto.
The plans for the parliament ahead include an EU membership referendum but do not include a plan to scrap the Human Rights Act and replace it with a British version.
Instead, the Government will bring forward proposals for a British Bill of Rights to replace the HRA, with legislation expected following consultation later in the parliament.
The packed agenda of 26 bills - plus one in draft form - aims to enact many of the promises made by Conservatives during the general election campaign, and Mr Cameron made no secret of the fact that the absolute majority secured on May 7 allows him to press ahead with Tory measures previously blocked by the Liberal Democrats.
Measures to ban rises in income tax, VAT or national insurance over the next five years are at the heart of the first Conservative-only Queen’s Speech in almost two decades, unveiled amid lavish ceremony at Westminster.
Prime Minister David Cameron said the “One Nation” package was a “clear programme for working people, social justice and bringing our country together”, which would deliver full employment, extend the right to buy to housing association tenants, increase free childcare and create a “truly seven-day NHS”.
The Tory’s Northern Powerhouse project also featured in the Queen’s Speech, with the Government set to introduce a Cities and Local Government Devolution Bill.
The new law would pave the way for powerful elected mayors in Manchester and potentially West Yorkshire, with the Chancellor George Osborne saying there will be no top level English devolution without the new posts.
Elected mayors are expected to cover combined authority areas and hand the holder new powers over transport, jobs growth cash, skills training, planning and potentially policing.
Announcing the move, the Queen said: “To bring different parts of our country together, my Government will work to bring about a balanced economic recovery. Legislation will be introduced to provide for the devolution of powers to cities with elected metro mayors, helping to build a Northern powerhouse.”
A Trade Unions Bill will impose a 50 per cent turnout threshold on strike ballots, with a further requirement in essential public services for strikes to be supported by 40 per cent of those entitled to vote and also introduces a new opt-in process for union members wanting to pay into a political fund.
Mr Cameron said that after the British economy was hauled back from the brink of disaster in 2010, the UK now stands “on the brink of something special”.
“We have a golden opportunity to renew the idea that working people are backed in this country; to renew the promise to those least fortunate that they will have the opportunity for a brighter future; and to renew the ties that bind every part of our United Kingdom,” said the Prime Minister.
“We now have the mandate to deliver that renewal. And it starts with this Queen’s Speech.”
Describing the agenda as “the bold first step of a One Nation Government - a Government for working people”, Mr Cameron said it aimed to create a Britain whose people could “get a decent job, have a good education, buy a home of your own, have dignity when you retire and feel safe and secure throughout your life”.