First off, the Queen’s Speech isn’t even written by the Queen. Instead, it is the Government’s plan for the coming year read by the Queen. Each year, it is read by Her Majesty when she travels from Buckingham Palace to the Houses of Parliament to carry out the tradition. A tradition that she’s performed now 62 times in her 63 year reign.
Now that that’s been established, just what did Her Majesty have to say this year? In her speech, she listed the 26 bills that represent the one-nation program of the first majority Conservative leadership in twenty years – otherwise known as David Cameron’s second term as prime minister.
One of the major points was a bill that will permit the first referendum on Britain’s membership in the European Union since 1975. Political analysts are arguing that the 26 bills outlined in this year’s Queen Speech strongly resemble the Tory Manifesto that David Cameron’s leadership is based on. One of the more controversial bills is Cameron’s intention to replace the Human Rights Act with a British Bill of Rights. Priti Patel, Britain’s Employment Minister is urging the prime minister to pump the brakes. “When it comes to legal and constitutional affairs…” Patel states, “you have to work externally with the right consultation. It takes time…”
The focal point of this year’s Queen Speech however, is Cameron’s law promising Britain a referendum on the country’s membership in the European Union. He promises that the referendum will take place before the end of 2017.
Other features of this year’s speech are a 5 year lock on tax raises. This includes VAT, income tax, and national insurance. As an extension of this bill, there will be no income tax for those working 30 hours a week on minimum wage. Furthermore, there will be an increase on government subsidized (free) childcare for three and four years old to 30 hours per week.
The Cameron government also proposes a counter-extremism bill that aims to combat radicalization. This bill is designed to “stop extremists promoting views and behaviour that undermine British values.” This bill comes in spite of warnings that such a mandate will threaten free speech.
Another one of the 26 bills is an across-the-board ban on any and all legal highs. Infractions will lead to prison sentences of up to seven years. While alcohol, tobacco, caffeine, food, and some medicinal products are still on the approved list, designer drugs and any psychoactive substances will fall under the bill.