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The Key Points From The Queen’s Speech 2021

·Politics news editor, HuffPost UK
·3 min read
(Photo: DAN KITWOOD via Getty Images)
(Photo: DAN KITWOOD via Getty Images)

Boris Johnson has unveiled his legislative agenda for the new parliamentary session, as the country emerges from a year of coronavirus lockdowns.

Here are some of the more eye-catching parts of Tuesday’s Queen’s Speech, which includes around 30 new bits of legislation.

Education and skills

The clear focus is what the government likes to call “levelling up” — boosting skills and jobs, especially in the so-called red wall constituencies the Conservatives won from Labour at the last election.

As part of Johnson’s “lifetime skills guarantee”, adults will be able to access up to four years’ worth of student loans at any point in their life in order to study at college or university.

No social care details

Johnson promised to “fix the crisis in social care once and for all” when he became PM in July 2019. But the Queen’s Speech does not include details of how this will be done. Instead the prime minister said only that proposals will be brought forward “later in the year”.

There will however be a health bill to implement planned changes to the structure of NHS England for “a more integrated and efficient health and care system”.

Voter ID

The Elections Integrity Bill will require voters to produce proof of their identity when voting in elections.

It has been condemned by MPs on both sides of the Commons. Johnson has claimed it is necessary to “protect democracy”. But Tory former cabinet minister David Davis said it was an “illiberal solution for a non-existent problem”.

Campaigners have said that people without ID would be disenfranchised as a result of the move, especially those in marginalised groups. Government figures show while 76% of white people have driving licence, only 53% of Black people do. Labour’s shadow democracy minister Cat Smith said 3.5 million voters did not have photographic ID and the policy would “put up obstacles for poorer voters”.

US civil liberties have also warned it mirrors voter suppression tactics used by the Republican Party.

Ending fixed-term parliaments

The Dissolution and Calling of Parliament Bill will repeal the Fixed-term Parliaments Act introduced by David Cameron’s coalition government in 2011. In short, it means prime minister’s will once again have the power to call a general election whenever they like. It comes amid rumours Johnson may trigger an election in the spring or summer of 2023.

Gay conversion therapy

So-called conversion therapy is set to be banned. But a consultation will be run before deciding “how best to protect people”. The government also said it would “ensure” that “religious leaders” can “continue to be able to have open and honest conversations with people”.

Also

The Queen’s Speech also included:

A Planning Bill to make it easier to build new homes, schools and hospitals.

A Counter-State Threats Bill to introduce a US-style register of foreign agents to help counter espionage and influence from hostile governments.

The return of the controversial Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill, which saw demonstrations over concerns that it would curtail the right to protest when it was last before parliament.

A Higher Education (Free Speech) Bill giving regulators the power to fine universities or students’ unions in England if they fail to protect freedom of expression.

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This article originally appeared on HuffPost UK and has been updated.

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