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The State Opening of Parliament 2016

On 18 May 2016, Her Majesty The Queen read out to the UK parliament the legislative programme for the year.  

The programme was very varied. Highlights included prison reform, a Bill to tackle extremism, developing Queen & Prince Phillipdriverless cars and a space port, charging people from outside the UK to use the National Health Service and speeding up the process of adoption. 

Crucially, it was also used as an opportunity to state that her Ministers should uphold the sovereignty of parliament and the primacy of the House of Commons.

List of Bills to go before the UK Parliament

Digital Economy Bill (UK-wide)

  • Every UK household will have legal right to a fast broadband connection
  • Minimum speed of 10Mbps to be guaranteed through Broadband Universal Service Obligation
  • Properties in the "remotest areas" may have to contribute to cost of installation
  • New code to cut the cost of building mobile phone masts and broadband cables
  • Right to automatic compensation when broadband service goes down
  • Companies must get consent before sending promotional spam emails, with fines for transgressors
  • All websites containing pornographic images to require age verification for access

Modern Transport Bill

  • Measures to encourage investment in driverless cars, electric cars, commercial space planes and drones (Great Britain only)
  • Ensuring insurance is available to users of driverless cars (Great Britain only)
  • Updating Air Travel Organiser's Licence (Atol), the UK's financial protection scheme for holidays (UK-wide)

Neighbourhood Planning and Infrastructure Bill (England and Wales)

  • Pre-commencement planning conditions to be streamlined to speed up housing developments
  • Changes to make compulsory planning orders "clearer, fairer and faster"
  • A new statutory framework for paying compensation, based on market value of land
  • National Infrastructure Commission to be put on statutory footing
  • Land Registry to be privatized

Local Growth and Jobs Bill (England only)

  • Framework to be put in place to enable local authorities to retain 100% of business rates levied
  • New powers to be devolved to local authorities to be set out in law
  • Combined authority mayors to have scope to levy business rate supplement to fund infrastructure projects

Better Markets Bill (UK-wide)

  • Measures to make it easier for customers to switch banks and energy providers
  • Competition and Market Authority recommendations for energy competition to be implemented
  • Speeding up competition investigations and giving regulators more powers

Bus Services Bill (England only)

  • Combined local authorities with elected mayors to have power to franchise local services
  • Operators will be required to share route, fare and schedule data with app developers
  • Councils to set standards for ticketing, branding and frequency of services
  • Clearer and simpler franchising arrangements

NHS Overseas Visitors Charging Bill (To be decided) 

  • Overseas migrants and visitors will be charged for NHS services they are not entitled to
  • Tighter residency rules mean fewer visitors from the European Economic Area will be able to access free health care
  • "Full cost" of treating overseas patients to be recovered and ploughed back into NHS

Pensions Bill

  • Better protection for people paying into multi-employer pension schemes known as Master Trusts (Great Britain only)
  • Master Trusts to have to meet new criteria and be subject to closer supervision (Great Britain only)
  • Capping early exit fees charged by trust-based occupational pension schemes (Great Britain only)
  • Pension Advisory Service, Pension Wise and Money Advice Service to be merged into single body (UK-wide)
  • New financial advice body to be created (UK-wide) 

Children and Social Work Bill (England only)

  • Adoption procedures to be speeded up
  • Councils required to tell children leaving care what services they are entitled to
  • All care leavers to have right to personal adviser to the age of 25
  • A new social work regulator to focus on training and professional standards
  • A duty on councils and schools to promote educational achievement for adopted children

Education for All Bill (Mainly England only) 

  • Powers to convert under-performing schools in "unviable" local authorities to academies
  • Goal of making every school an academy but no compulsion to do so
  • Head teachers, not councils, to be responsible for school improvement
  • A new national funding formula for schools
  • Schools to be responsible for assisting excluded pupils 

Higher Education and Research Bill (Mainly England only)

  • Removing barriers for new universities to be set up and for existing providers to get university status
  • New Teaching Excellence Framework to focus on raising standards
  • Universities to be required to publish detailed admissions data on ethnicity, gender and socio-economic background

Prison and Courts Reform Bill (England and Wales) 

  • New "reform" prisons to be opened, with emphasis on training, rehabilitation and education
  • Governors of new prisons to have freedom to agree service contracts and establish their own boards
  • More statistics on post-release offending and employment rates to be published
  • Courts and tribunals to be modernised, with greater use of technology to reduce delays

National Citizen Service Bill (Discussions with devolved administrations)

  • New statutory framework to deliver the National Citizen Service
  • All state secondary schools, academies, private schools and councils required to promote NCS

Lifetime Savings Bill (UK-wide) 

  • Help to Save scheme announced in Budget to help those on low incomes build up "rainy day fund"
  • Those in work but getting certain benefits who put aside £50 a month will see it matched by state
  • New Lifetime ISA for under-40s to be introduced, offering £1,000 tax-free payment each year for those saving £4,000

Small Charitable Donations Bill (UK-wide)

  • Gift Aid Small Donations scheme to be changed following a public consultation
  • Aim to increase benefits of scheme for new and smaller charities, including amateur sports clubs
  • Clarify rules concerning how charities connected with community buildings can benefit

Counter-Extremism and Safeguarding Bill (England and Wales) 

  • A new civil order regime to be introduced to restrict extremist activity
  • New powers of intervention to tackle radicalisation of children in "unregulated education settings"
  • Government to step in where councils fail to tackle extremism, subject to consultation
  • Ofcom to have power to regulate internet-streamed material from outside EU

Criminal Finances Bill (UK-wide)

  • New criminal offence making companies liable for stopping their staff facilitating tax evasion
  • Changes to laws on the proceeds of crime, to make it easier for the police and courts to recover criminal assets
  • The Suspicious Activity Reports regime to be refocused, with emphasis on tackling systemic money laundering

Cultural Property Bill (UK-wide)

  • The UK to ratify the Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the event of armed conflict
  • Dealing in cultural property illegally exported from occupied territory to be made criminal offence
  • Property protected under the convention and its protocols to be identified by new Blue Shield 

Wales Bill (Wales only) 

  • Clarification of the division of powers reserved to UK Parliament and those devolved to National Assembly of Wales
  • Devolving powers over energy, transport and elections, including voting age, to Welsh Assembly
  • Repeal of requirement for referendum prior to devolution of income tax powers
  • Draft bill was published in October 2015

Intellectual Property Bill (UK-wide)

  • Change the law relating to unjustified threats of legal action in cases involving patents, trade marks and design rights
  • Make it easier for companies to settle intellectual property disputes out of court
  • Exempting lawyers and other professional advisers from liability for threatening legal action in certain cases
  • Subject to consultation and report by the Law Commission 

Draft Law of Property Bill

  • Response to Law Commission report on simplifying land ownership
  • Bills carried over from last session of Parliament 

High Speed Rail Bill

  • Give government the legal powers to build high-speed rail network between London and the West Midlands

Investigatory Powers Bill

  • Overhaul of laws governing how the state gathers and retains private communications or other forms of data to combat crime
  • Broadband and mobile phone providers will be compelled to hold a year's worth of communications data
  • Creation of new Investigatory Powers Commissioner 

Policing and Crime Bill

  • Closer collaboration between the emergency rescue services
  • Overhaul of the police complaints and disciplinary systems
  • A ban on under-18s being held in police cells as a "place of safety"

Other measures

Bill of Rights (Subject to consultation)

  • Plans for a British bill of rights to replace the Human Rights Act will be published in "due course" and subject to consultation
  • Proposals for a new framework of human rights, based on those set out in the European Convention on Human Rights
  • Bill of rights also to take into account UK's "common law tradition"

Soft Drinks Industry Levy (UK-wide)

  • New levy on producers of drinks with added sugar content to come into force in April 2018
  • Measure to be included in 2017 Finance Bill
  • Money raised will be used to increase funding for school sports, after-school activities and breakfast clubs
*information provided by the BBC News

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