This morning His Majesty unveiled the Government’s programme for the next year (and the run up to the next election). 21 pieces of legislation were announced, under the headings of ‘Growing the Economy’, ‘Strengthening Society’, and ‘Keeping People Safe’. They are:
Growing the Economy
- Offshore Petroleum Licensing Bill – This legislation will ensure that there are annual North Sea oil and gas licensing rounds. The King said it would “help the country transition to Net Zero by 2050 without adding undue burdens on households”.
- Trade (Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership) Bill – This legislation would smooth Britain’s entry into the CPTPP trade agreement (including Japan, Australia, and Mexico) which His Majesty described as the “fastest-growing region in the world”.
- Automated Vehicles Bill – Supporting, in the King’s words, the “safe commercial development of emerging industries, such as self-driving vehicles”, would enable autonomous vehicles to drive on British roads for the first time, and ensure penalities for mistakes.
- Digital Markets, Competition, and Consumers Bill – Introducing “new competition rules for digital markets”, this will enhance consumer rights and protections in the online marketplace, such as drip pricing and fake reviews.
- Data Protection and Digital Information Bill – This legislation aims to “encourage innovation in technologies such as machine learning”, according to the King. This could lead to changes with the UK’s post-Brexit data rights regime, including the scrapping of GDPR.
- The Media Bill – Aiming to “support the creative industries and protect public interest journalism”, this legislation aims to repeal a law making newspapers liable for the legal costs of both sides in libel and privacy cases, amongst other ambitions.
- The Arbitration Bill – This aims to adjust a three-decade-old law on dispute resolution following a recommendation by the Law Commission in September, aiming to speed up decisions in a variety of areas, from family law to shipping.
- Draft Rail Reform Bill – Unlike other legislation, this legislation is only a draft, which will receive “pre-legislative scrutiny” from experts. Nevertheless, it is aiming to resolve current anomalies surrounding ticket-pricing, as well as overseeing the creation of Great British Railways to oversee the delivery of rail services.
- Tobacco and Vapes Bill – According to His Majesty, this will aim “to create a smokefree generation” by “restricting the sale of tobacco” in order that “children currently aged fourteen or younger can never be sold cigarettes”. It will also aim to restrict the marketing and sale of e-cigarettes to minors.
- Leasehold and Freehold Bill – Although stopping short of abolishing the entire leasehold system, this legislation aims to ban the construction of new leasehold homes, whilst making it easier for flat owners to buy their freeholds. It will also, in the King’s words, tackle “the exploitation of millions of homeowners through punitive service charges.”
- Renters (Reform) Bill – Aiming to benefit renters through “stronger security of tenure and better value”, and provide landlords with the “certainty they can regain their properties when needed”, this legislation will not introduce the controversial ban on Section 21 evictions, but will outlaw the blanket bans on tenants having pets.
- Football Governance Bill – Trailled by Nicola Richards on this site yesterday morning, the King announced that this would help “deliver a long-term plan to regenerate towns and out local people in control of their future” by safeguarding “the future of football clubs”. It will create a new independent regulator for clubs, and introduce tougher owner tests.
- Pedicabs (London) Bill – Dealing with what His Majesty called the “scourge” of unlicensed pedicabs in London, this legislation aims to empower local authorities to crackdown on or ban unscrupulous or irritating pedicab drivers.
- Holocaust Memorial Bill – Since the Government is “committed to tackling antisemitism” and “ensuring that the Holocaust is never forgotten”, the King announced this legislation would “progress the construction of a national Holocaust Memorial and Learning Centre in Victoria Tower Gardens”.
- Animal Welfare (Livestock Exports) Bill – Designed to bar excessively long journeys for animals being taken to slaughter or fattened, this aims to ban the live export of sheep, cattle, goats, pigs, and horses, and ensure those animals slaughtered in the UK are done so within slaughterhouses of the highest possible welfare standards.
- Economic Activities of Public Bodies (Overseas Matters) Bill – Aiming to bar public bodies from conducting boycott, divestment, and sanctions campaigns against other countries – particularly Israel – this aims to fulfill a 2019 manifesto pledge.
Keeping People Safe
- Sentencing Bill – Designed to ensure, in His Majesty’s words, “tougher sentences for the most serious offenders” and to “increase the confidence of victims”, this legislation will scrap prison sentences of under a year for most criminals, and ensure whole life terms for sadistic or sexual killers. It also criminalise taking non-consensual naked photos.
- Criminal Justice Bill – According to the King, this will “empower police forces and the criminal justice system to prevent new or complex crimes”. Defendants will be forced to attend their sentencing, and police will gain powers to enter premises without a warrant to seize stolen goods when they have “reasonable proof” it is there.
- Investigatory Powers (Amendment) Bill – Aiming to confront threats to national security that are “changing rapidly due to new technology”, this will give the security and intelligence services powers to use less sensitive bulk personal data and for the Government to issue notices to companies rolling out new encryption technology.
- Terrorism (Protection of Premises) Bill – In His Majesty’s phrasing, this legislation would “protect public premises from terrorism in light of the Manchester Arena attack”. In practice, venues would be required to ensure “necessary but proportionate” steps were taken to mitigate the impact of terror offences.
- Victims and Prisoners Bill – Carried over from the previous session, this would enshrine a code for the way victims are treated on a statutory basis, and give ministers “greater oversight” over the release of the most serious offenders.