11 May 2021
For the 67th time in her reign, the Queen has visited Parliament for its state opening, at which she delivers a speech setting out the Government’s plans for its legislative programme in the months ahead.
These will, Her Majesty said, deliver a national recovery from the pandemic, levelling up opportunities across all parts of the UK.
Economy and employment
The aim will be to ensure that “the public finances are returned to a sustainable path once the economic recovery is secure”. The Government plans the fastest ever increase in investment in R&D.
Eight new freeports will create hubs for jobs and new opportunities for communities.
Education and training
Legislation will be introduced to support a lifetime skills guarantee to enable people to access “high quality education and training” throughout their lives.
The legislative measures include:
enabling a new student finance system to transform the current student loans system, which will give every adult access to a flexible loan for higher-level education and training at university or college, useable at any point in their lives
employers will have a statutory role in planning publicly-funded training programmes with education providers, through a “Skills Accelerator” programme
the Education Secretary will be given more powers to intervene in colleges that fail to meet local needs, and to direct structural change where needed to ensure the provider improves.
The Government will also ensure that children have the best start in life with a focus on early years. It will address the lost time in education during the pandemic.
New green industries will be encouraged to create jobs and protect the environment. The Government will set binding environmental targets and will ensure the highest standards of animal welfare.
Health and social care
There will be additional funding for the NHS and it will be encouraged to innovate and embrace new technology. Patients will receive more tailored and preventative care closer to home and plans will be put in place to tackle obesity, cancer and mental health problems.
Proposals on social care reform “will be brought forward”.
Housing and planning
More people will be helped to own their homes while those who are renting will be given more rights. The Government plans to end ground rents for new leasehold buildings and it will create a new Building Safety Regulator to ensure “the tragedies of the past are never repeated”.
The planning system will be modernised.
Infrastructure and Transport
The Government plans to invest in national infrastructure aiming to improve rail and bus connectivity and to extend 5G mobile coverage and gigabit capable broadband.
The Government will lead the way on internet safety for all, especially children, whilst harnessing the benefits of “a free, open and secure internet". A draft Online Safety Bill will be brought forward.
Earlier, the Government confirmed that a number of bills will be carried over to complete their passage in the next session.
This includes the Environment Bill, which will “cement the UK’s leadership on climate change, as we host the international COP26 Summit in Glasgow later this year”.
Laws to protect the public, support the police and deliver Manifesto commitments to cut crime will also return, with the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill set to overhaul sentencing to keep serious sexual and violent offenders behind bars for longer.
That bill will also double the maximum sentence for assaulting people in the emergency services and give the police new powers to stop and search those convicted of knife and offensive weapons offences.
Police, local authorities and other agencies will also have a new, legal duty to work together to address the root causes of serious violence and intervene earlier to prevent these crimes from happening in the first place.