21 June 2017

Somewhat paradoxically, the Queen's Speech setting out her Government's plans for legislation is shorter than in previous years but, in a break with tradition, is to cover a two-year period with no Speech planned for 2018.

The reason for the extension can be explained in one word: Brexit.

Given that the clock is ticking on the negotiations, as the European Commission keeps reminding the Prime Minister, the Government wants to ensure that no further time is lost in the work of passing the legislation that will be needed to see the process through to a conclusion.

The extent to which Brexit will dominate Parliamentary time over the next two years can be seen from the programme read out by the Queen: eight of the 24 bills and draft bills relate to the UK's exit from the EU.

They include the much-publicised Repeal Bill to overturn the 1972 Act which took Britain into the European Economic Community (EEC), and separate bills on customs, trade, immigration, fisheries, agriculture, nuclear safeguards and the international sanctions regime.

Away from the focus on Brussels, there will be: a Tenants' Fees Bill to ban landlords and agents charging "letting fees" or any payments as a condition of tenancy other than rent; a Civil Liability Bill aiming to tackle fraudulent whiplash claims and reduce motor insurance premiums; and a Domestic Violence and Abuse Bill establishing a Domestic Violence and Abuse Commissioner.

The UK remains committed to spending 2% of GDP on defence (via an Armed Forces Bill) and there will be bills relating to automated and electric vehicles, the space industry and the High Speed Phase 2A covering the next stage of the HS2 network, between Birmingham and Crewe.

Significantly missing from the Speech were Conservative Manifesto commitments to, among other issues, grammar schools, a vote on foxhunting, scrapping of universal free school lunches, means-testing the winter fuel payment, ending the pensions "triple lock" and introducing an energy price cap.