News | Published December 19 2019

Queen’s Speech to set out domestic agenda on Thursday

The new Queen’s Speech will set out the Conservative government’s domestic agenda, which will include legislation on Brexit, criminal justice, and the NHS.

Much of the legislation will be carried over from the previous agenda put forward in the Queen’s Speech on October 14, which was effectively mothballed ahead of the general election.

More than 20 bills will feature as part of a programme of “far-reaching” domestic reforms according to Number Ten, including legislation to take the UK out of the EU on January 31, guarantees on increased funding for the National Health Service and harsher sentences for dangerous criminal offenders. 

There will also be an enhancement of rights for victims of crime and greater protections for the police.

Johnson has said that the NHS is set to receive the “largest cash injection in its history”, with the NHS Long Term Plan Bill writing into law the government’s commitment to spend an extra £33.9 billion in cash per year on the NHS by 2023-24.

The commitment is equivalent to a 3.4 per cent year-on-year increase in expenditure. 

While also legislating for an Australian style points-based immigration system from January 1 2021, there will also be a fast-track visa system for qualified health professionals, as well as measures making it easier for hospitals to make and trial new medicines to make sure the NHS does not lose out.

There are also plans to scrap hospital car parking charges "for those in greatest need".

Johnson’s majority of 80 MPs now makes it highly likely that his legislation will pass without any major amendments or hindrance, and once the Queen’s Speech is done, Parliament will sit to ratify the Withdrawal Agreement struck with the EU in October.

The opening debate and vote on the new EU Withdrawal Agreement Bill is likely to take place on Friday, after which Parliament will go into recess for the Christmas period.

Johnson has also made clear his opposition to any extension of the 11-month transitional period after Brexit, with Downing Street confident that the window is enough to conclude a free-trade agreement with the EU despite concerns from Brussels.

The new Brexit bill will allow British judges to deviate from previous rulings of the European Court of Justice, lay the ground for amendments to the Human Rights Act to protect British troops, and bring in new regulatory frameworks for trade, farming, fishing, financial services and the environment.

Johnson is also expected to legislate for a minimum level of service during train strikes and to conduct a “fundamental review” of the business rates system as was promised in the Conservative manifesto, to “protect the high street and community from excessive tax hikes”.

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Authored by

Scott Challinor
Business Editor
December 19 2019

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