Economy and Infrastructure

14.10.19

The Queen’s Speech Roundup: Crime, social care and devolution bills

Boris Johnson has set out his Government’s major policies on crime, the environment and Brexit in today’s Queen Speech, including the announcement that a Devolution White Paper will be published.

Housing safety in the wake of Grenfell, the NHS and social care reform all featured In the State Opening of Parliament, the first full legislative programme announced since 2017.

In her speech in the House of Lords, the Queen laid out Boris Johnson’s priorities in the form of 22 separate bills, centring largely around Brexit and including a European Union Withdrawal Bill.

One of the Queen’s announcements was that “a white paper will be published to set out my Government’s ambitions for unleashing regional potential in England, and to enable decisions that affect local people to be made at a local level.”

LGA chairman James Jamieson, called this announced particularly “encouraging in signalling a renewed energy in favour of English devolution.”

“With no new devolution deals agreed in two years, councils will look to work with the Government on how to reignite this process.”

c.  Tolga AkmenPA WirePA Images

The speech also tackled the need for social care reform, with new proposals to brought forward alongside changes to the mental health act.

Cllr Ian Hudspeth, chairman of the LGA community wellbeing board, said this reform is “something the LGA has long been campaigning for” as “one of the major issues facing society.”

“The Government’s proposals on the future of adult social care need to be substantive and must be brought forward as soon as possible. We know what the issues are, now is the time for answers.”

Environmental policies were included, with government promising to establish a “world-leading” independent regulator called to the Office for Environmental Protection, as well as handing new powers over to councils.

The justice system was another key target for Johnson’s Government, with plans for tougher sentences for violent offenders, new protections for police officers, and a “new duty will be placed on public sector bodies ensuring they work together to address serious violence.”

One feature of the speech was a pledge to revamp the national infrastructural strategy in order to “ensure the benefits of a prospering economy reach every corner of the United Kingdom.”

The strategy “will set out a long-term vision to improve the nation’s digital, transport and energy infrastructure” through an aviation bill, new accelerated broadband rollout and a major overhaul of the railway franchising model.

In the speech The Government announced it plans to introduce laws “implementing new building safety standards” aimed at the introducing “clearer accountability” and “strong duties” for developers and landlords.

The new framework builds on the independent review of building safety in the wake of the Grenfell fire.

The NHS is to set up an independent body investigating serious healthcare incidents, and other bills included new divorce, extradition and animal welfare bills.

Image credit -  Daniel Leal-Olivas/PA Wire/PA Images and Tolga Akmen/PA Wire/PA Images

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