Prince Charles delivered the Queen's Speech in Parliament on Tuesday, setting out the government's agenda for the coming year. He was accompanied by the Duke of Cambridge. Prince Charles said the government's priority "is to grow and strengthen the economy and help ease the cost of living for families”. He stood in place of her Majesty, the Queen who will be scaling back the number of official engagements she attends as she preserves her health, but the 96-year-old head of state had hoped to attend one of the most important events in her annual diary.
Below are a few highlights:
Mental Health reforms
The Government will reform mental health rules, aim to clear the NHS backlog caused by the Covid pandemic and give a renewed focus to women’s health, according to the Queen’s Speech.
The move will make it easier for people with learning disabilities and autism to be discharged from hospital, and there is also a plan to “end the existing disparities in the use of the Act for people from ethnic minority backgrounds – especially for detentions and for the use of community treatment orders”.
The definition of mental disorder will further be amended so that people can no longer be detained solely because they have a learning disability or because they are autistic.
Also in the Speech are plans for 33 new maternal mental health services to be made available across the whole of England by March 2024. Some 399 mental health teams will also work in schools and colleges from next year.
The NHS resource budget in England will increase to £162.6 billion in 2024/25, up from £123.7 billion in 2019/20, including £8 million for clearing the treatment backlog.
Some 40 new hospitals by 2030 have already been announced, alongside moving more technology and staff into diagnostic hubs in the community so people can be seen more quickly.
New law to protect access to cash announced in queen’s speech
New laws to protect access to cash and help victims of financial scams were announced by Her Majesty the Queen. The new Financial Services and Markets Bill will support consumers by protecting access to cash. This will ensure victims are not left paying for fraud through no fault of their own
Paresh Raja, CEO, Market Financial Solutions said, “Will they, won’t they – that was the big question surrounding the Planning Bill ahead of today’s Queen’s Speech. It is certainly positive to hear it mentioned, with the policy seemingly dragged back out of the proverbial long grass, into which it was kicked last year. As ever, the devil will be in the detail, but stating that "the planning system will be reformed" is a start at least.
“Let’s start with the obvious fact: the UK needs more housing, and fast. To achieve this, we need to make it easier to build more new homes and, crucially, also convert disused commercial properties into residential ones. Tabling the Planning Bill is a vital first step in hopefully addressing the red tape that prevents the delivery of new homes.
“Question marks hang over the purported decision to give local leaders more power to revitalise high streets, which was hinted at. It sounds promising, but the policy could miss the mark a little. Landlords seldom want their properties to sit empty – really the question is whether there is viable demand from businesses to rent shops and offices, and at a price that ensures landlords can cover their costs.
“The continued efforts to raise standards in the private rental sector and protect tenants' rights is welcomed. It will be interesting to see how this takes shape.”
Liberal Democrat Leader Ed Davey said: “This Queen’s Speech does nothing to help the millions of families and pensioners facing soaring bills and eye-watering inflation. The Conservatives have failed to deliver a cut to VAT that would have saved families an average of £600, failed to help pensioners and failed to help the most vulnerable in our society.
“The Conservatives are continuing to neglect rural communities. There was nothing in these plans to support farmers on the brink, tackle soaring ambulance waiting times and GP shortages, or stop the dumping of filthy sewage into our rivers and seas.
“It shows a Prime Minister refusing to listen to the clear message sent by voters at last week’s local elections who are fed up of being taken for granted by this Conservative Government.”
The Queen’s Speech included 38 bills, some in draft form and some carried over from the previous parliament:
A Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill
An Energy Security Bill
The Renters Reform Bill
A Non-Domestic Rating Bill
A Public Order Bill
A Brexit Freedoms Bill
A Bill of Rights
An Economic Crime and Corporate Transparency Bill
A National Security Bill
The Online Safety Bill
The Transport Bill
A Media Bill will pave the way for the sale of Channel 4.
Other bills include a High Speed Rail (Crewe-Manchester) Bill, a Social Housing Regulation Bill, Modern Slavery Bill, a Northern Ireland Troubles (Legacy and Reconciliation) Bill, a Conversion Therapy Bill, a Higher Education (Freedom of Speech) Bill, and an Animal Welfare (Kept Animals) Bill, as well as a Draft Mental Health Act Reform Bill.